Up to 1000 young athletes aged 14-18 will unite for the dynamic and empowering festival of impactful sport, personal development and Commonwealth friendship, last held on the Pacific Island nation of Samoa in September 2015. The announcement follows the recent news that the Bahamas will host the 2017 edition of the Games.
“I am thrilled to announce that the Executive Board of the Commonwealth Games Federation has unanimously voted to award the 2021 edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games to Northern Ireland.
“The Commonwealth Youth Games are an important and inspiring demonstration of the connecting and life-changing power of sport to bring people and different communities together. As Samoa showed us last year, hosting a special sporting occasion like the Youth Games empowers even the smallest nations to have a profound and distinctive impact – not just on their own young people or their own communities – but on an international scale.
“The Commonwealth Games Federation looks forward to working in close partnership with you to realise your ambitions to write a proud and ambitious new chapter in Northern Ireland’s history through the unifying power of sport”.
Welcoming the announcement, the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council Chairman Robert McVeigh will say:
“On behalf of the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council I'm delighted to accept this offer to host the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021. This is a hugely significant day for local sport; the result of many years of lobbying and hard work. It offers a great opportunity for children of upper primary school and Year 8 age to strive towards being part of the largest ever TeamNI at Commonwealth Youth Games. We look forward to the tremendous support for which the Northern Ireland public is renowned.”
Northern Ireland’s successful bid for the Commonwealth Youth Games centres around an ambitious promise of an inclusive and accessible event delivered for and by young people – as athletes, volunteers and organisers. All athletes will be housed in existing university accommodation and the sports programme will be determined at a later date in partnership with the Commonwealth Games Federation and sporting governing bodies. 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.
With a strong medal tally at the Samoa 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games, where Northern Ireland placed eighth across over 60 participating nations, a focus on increasing elite sporting performances is seen as an important legacy outcome; alongside volunteering opportunities and community cohesion, most recently demonstrated as part of the country-wide, grass-roots engagement activities and celebrations on the Northern Ireland leg of the Glasgow 2014 Queen’s Baton Relay.