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Bahamas, Northern Ireland awarded Commonwealth Youth Games

The Bahamas and Northern Ireland have been awarded hosting rights to the Commonwealth Youth Games multi-sport events in 2017 and 2021 respectively.

The Bahaman capital of Nassau will stage the sixth edition of the event, which is open to athletes aged 14-18, from July 19-23 next year. It will mark the first time a Caribbean nation has hosted a Games event in over 50 years.

Seven sports are proposed for the 2017 event in the shape of aquatics (swimming), athletics (track and field), boxing, cycling (road), rugby sevens, tennis and – for the first time at the Commonwealth Youth Games – judo.

The majority of the events will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre site, which includes the Thomas A Robinson stadium. The 15,000-capacity venue will play host to the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as all athletics events.

The decision to award the Games to the Bahamas comes after last year’s successful staging of the event in Samoa, another Small Island Developing State and ties in with the Commonwealth Games Federation’s (CGF) commitment to supporting sustainable and prosperous Commonwealth communities.

The Bahamas was bidding to host the 2017 edition of the Games after fellow Caribbean nation St Lucia withdrew its hosting rights in September. St Lucia was awarded rights for the 2017 Games in November 2011 but pulled out, citing infrastructural and economic challenges.

“The Commonwealth Youth Games are a unique and empowering opportunity to celebrate and engage young people on the level playing field of support,” CGF president Louise Martin said. “I congratulate and commend the Bahamas Bid Committee for their passion, commitment and expertise and look forward to helping them realise their dream of an impactful and inspiring Games for the Bahamas, the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.”

Romell K. Knowles, secretary general of the Bahamas Commonwealth Games Association, added: “The sixth edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games is by far the largest sporting event ever undertaken by the Bahamas as a host and we look forward to presenting the best Commonwealth Youth Games ever.”

Specific details of Northern Ireland’s staging of the Games in 2021 are yet to be announced, but the event will be focused on the country’s capital, Belfast. The country’s bid team placed importance on the event being delivered by, as well as for, young people. Competing athletes will be housed in existing university accommodation. An even gender split of athletes is regarded as a high priority, consistent with Belfast 2021’s ambitions to use the Games to inspire increased participation and active lifestyles, especially for young girls.

“This is a hugely significant day for local sport; the result of many years of lobbying and hard work,” Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games council chairman Robert McVeigh said. “It offers a great opportunity for children of upper primary school and Year 8 age to strive towards being part of the largest ever Team NI at (the) Commonwealth Youth Games.”