Economy Secretary has said he will prioritise a review of sports facilities provision in order to ensure Wales is in the strongest possible position to host future high profile events.
However, he confirmed that after consideration of detailed feasibility work, and given the current financial uncertainty, the Welsh Government Cabinet had concluded it is not in a position to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Ken Skates said:
“As Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for major events and elite sport I am determined to cement Wales’ reputation as a vibrant sporting nation and ensure we are in the best possible position to bid for and host high profile sporting events.
"Over the last four years the Welsh Government, in partnership with Commonwealth Games Wales, Sport Wales and others has undertaken in-depth work to consider the viability of a bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
“This has included a detailed feasibility work to consider the potential advantages, benefits, risks, challenges and costs associated with a bid. The work looked at a range of delivery models, including the Welsh Governments preference for an all-Wales bid which would have helped to ensure the benefits of the Games were felt across Wales.
“We have now fully considered that feasibility study, which sets out total projected costs for a Wales bid of between £1.32bn and £1.54bn.
“Such costs would involve a huge additional financial commitment from Welsh Government over three Assembly terms.
“Given the high cost, our understanding that an all-Wales bid was less likely to be supported and the current funding uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU, we have reluctantly concluded that the bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games is not feasible.
“I would stress that the work we have undertaken has not been wasted. It has highlighted the need for us to undertake a review of sports facilities in Wales with a view to increasing our spread of world class venues. Such venues would benefit the local community and the elite athlete, whilst also increasing our capacity to host major events.
“We remain committed to increasing physical activity levels of children, young people and adults right across Wales and I will be working with my Ministerial Health colleagues on a strategy that delivers on that agenda for the long term.
“We have some big sporting events to look forward to, with the UEFA Champions League final being held in Cardiff next year and the Volvo Ocean Race coming to Wales in 2018. We will continue to work to attract further high profile sporting and cultural events to Wales.
“I want to thank Commonwealth Games Wales for all their work on this and the Commonwealth Games Federation for their positive response to the unprecedented regional delivery models we considered. Hosting a future Commonwealth Games remains a Welsh ambition and we will continue to discuss flexible delivery options for future bid cycles”
Helen Phillips, Chair of Commonwealth Games Wales said:
“Naturally we are disappointed to hear of the Welsh Government’s decision not to support a bid for Wales to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. In light of the current economic uncertainty, we do however fully understand the reasons.
"Over the last few years we have worked closely with the Welsh Government and other partners on the feasibility assessment for bidding and hosting the 2026 Games. We have also engaged with the Commonwealth Games family and there has been much excitement about our innovative bid proposals.
"A lot of hard work has gone into preparing what was a full and detailed review of feasibility which would have led to a compelling bid. Despite this decision, we hope that some of the planned benefits for the whole of Wales can still be achieved under an “Active Wales” vision and that the work that has been conducted will be used to inform a bid in future cycles.
“Welsh athletes have been strong supporters of the work we have undertaken and we must now continue to give our full attention to ensuring we have robust selection standards and appoint outstanding support teams to create a world class performance environment in Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.”