Labour London mayor hopeful eyes bid for 2026 Commonwealth Games

London At Night

Gareth Thomas, the Labour MP and London Mayoral hopeful, has begun attempting to co-ordinate support behind a bid for London to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

The MP for Harrow West said he had already spoken to the organisers of Glasgow 2014 and that a bid to host the event in 2026 would be an opportunity to learn from mistakes made around the legacy from the 2012 Olympics. Thomas, who faces competition from the former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell as well as Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott, David Lammy and others for Labour’s nomination in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as mayor, said London could use existing stadiums to host the Commonwealth Games.

“We need to learn from the failure to build a lasting sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympics. And we also need to ensure this time every London borough benefits. Dagenham, Harrow and Croydon residents need to feel the more homely Commonwealth Games is their Games, just as much as those boroughs where the big stadiums are sited,” he said, highlighting one of the criticisms of the otherwise successful London Olympics.

“I would want to see groups of London boroughs working with the local business community to bid to host particular sports to help ensure the Games’ events are properly shared across the capital. And from early on in the bid team’s thinking, a clear, long-term, grassroots sports development plan needs to be in place.”

He told the Guardian that London was the home of the Commonwealth and that as the capital had not held the Games since 1934 it was time to bring it back. The 2018 Commonwealth Games will take place on the Gold Coast in Australia while the 2022 edition is expected to be awarded to Durban in South Africa.

Thomas, a former minister for international development and shadow minister for foreign affairs, has also proposed a 10% cut in public transport fares and new runways at Heathrow and Gatwick.

“Further investment in our public transport is essential and the hosting of the Commonwealth Games should be a further powerful incentive to promote Crossrail 2 and other public transport progress,” he said, adding that hosting it and other major events would help promote the capital to the international business community.

The departing London mayor Boris Johnson previously backed bidding for the 2022 Commonwealth Games but later cooled on the idea. Cardiff has already said it will also bid for 2026.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Owen Gibson, for The Guardian on Monday 22nd June 2015 18.11 Europe/London

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