Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has congratulated the hosts of the next two Commonwealth Youth Games: The Bahamas in 2017 and Northern Ireland in 2021.
Describing sport as a powerful catalyst for the empowerment of young people across the Commonwealth, Mr Sharma said he expected each host nation to build on the success of previous Youth Games to inspire young people to participate in sports, stay healthy, and contribute to building an inclusive Commonwealth.
Commenting after the announcements of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Mr Sharma said: “The Commonwealth Youth Games are a practical expression of Commonwealth inclusiveness, and a reminder of how sport and physical activity can bring people together and inspire positive social action.”
“I was honoured to attend the opening ceremony of the last Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia, Samoa, in September 2015 and immensely enjoyed meeting the many inspirational young athletes who participated. This international sporting event is growing from strength to strength, and demonstrates a distinctive Commonwealth ethos.”
The Secretary-General welcomed the choice of The Bahamas as the host of the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, saying: “I congratulate the Government of the Bahamas on its successful bid to host the next Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017. The Bahamas shows exemplary commitment to the development of young people in the Commonwealth, as was seen when the conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers assembled last year. I am confident they will put on a spectacular showcase for sport.”
Responding to the announcement of Northern Ireland as host of the 2021 Youth Games, Mr Sharma commented: “I am confident that the people of Northern Ireland will extend a warm welcome to all who participate and attend the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games. This will enable all to experience our continuing Commonwealth commitment to the positive role of young people and the role of sport in bringing communities together.”
At a special event at Belfast City Hall today, attended by athletes from previous editions of the Commonwealth Games and Youth Games, Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin CBE said: “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 is the organisation responsible for the governance, direction and organisation of the Commonwealth Sports Movement, including the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, led by the Secretary-General, provides policy advice and technical assistance to member governments to adopt sport as a tool for development and peace. This complements its broader work to support youth development and empowerment.
Each Olympic year the Commonwealth Secretariat brings together Ministers responsible for sport for the Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting. The next meeting is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Notes to Editors
The Commonwealth’s 53 member countries have a combined population of more than 2 billion, of which more than 60% are under 30 years of age.
The Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth development work is delivered through the Commonwealth Youth Programme, which has been supporting member countries for over 40 years.
The Commonwealth Youth Games is a multi-sport Commonwealth event for athletes aged 14-18. The first Commonwealth Youth Games was held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2000 and has since been held in Bendigo, Australia (2004), Pune, India (2008), Isle of Man, United Kingdom (2011) and Apia, Samoa (2015). Find out more from the Commonwealth Games Federation
The Commonwealth theme for 2016 is ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’.