Cities and regions that dream of hosting the Commonwealth Games have been urged to “go for it”.
The 2026 Games was thrown into jeopardy last week when Victoria in Australia cancelled plans to host the international event.
But West Midlands Mayor Andy Street says Birmingham’s successful hosting of the sports extravaganza shows the Games can deliver a “superb return”.
Many figures in UK politics say the Games must not be allowed to die, saying they would welcome the competition coming to the UK.
Birmingham hosted the Games last year after the South African city of Durban was stripped of the right to hold the event.
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A report in January found the Birmingham Games contributed at least £870.7million to the UK economy, supporting the equivalent of 9,000 full-time jobs.
Mr Street said: “It was a superb experience hosting the Games. It brought an incredible sense of pride, of excitement, and we saw some brilliant sport as well of course. My advice to any region that could be a potential bidder is go for it. You will not be disappointed. You can get a superb return on your investment.”
Mr Street insists the Games are still relevant in the modern world.
He said: “It’s clear it can be done in a way that gets a repayment on it – that’s definitely the Birmingham experience – and also it’s very clear it’s still really relevant, a wonderful sporting competition.
“It’s been used to propel the name of Birmingham and the West Midlands around the world. It has definitely got to be defended.”
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Australia’s Gold Coast has now offered to host the Games for the second time in eight years.
Champions of Brexit are keen to preserve the Games and want Britain to deepen its relationship with the Commonwealth.
Baroness Hoey, a former Labour sports minister, explained: “For a lot of athletes it’s their first big competition internationally, so it’s a really important step up.”
Conservative MP Paul Bristow, a member of the all-party group for the Commonwealth, said Man-chester had been “transformed” by hosting the Games in 2002. He said: “I’m sure Australia could make a go of it and I would urge them to do so.
“But if they don’t then I’d love the Games to come back to Britain.”
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Fellow Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski said: “Outside the constraints of the EU we now has the best opportunity in my lifetime to turn the Commonwealth into something tangible and meaningful.
“The Commonwealth represents a third of the world’s population and some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
“Bringing sportsmen and women together is a huge opportunity to reinvigorate the Commonwealth and its meaning, not just for us but all over the world.”
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