Northern Ireland has been chosen as the host nation for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games ©Belfast City Council

Northern Ireland has been chosen as the host nation of the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games, it was announced today.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has confirmed the decision to award them the event in five years’ time, which had been widely expected.

The country was the only bidder for the Games following the withdrawals of Jersey and the Bahamas, which was recently awarded the 2017 Games.

Both countries were unanimously selected for the respective events at the CGF’s Executive Board meeting, held in Gibraltar last Friday (January 29). 

Sporting competition at the 2021 Games is expected to be held in capital city Belfast, with the official programme for the event due to be released in the near future following consultation between the various stakeholders.

Belfast’s Mary Peters Track could be used to stage athletics, while Bangor’s Aurora pool has reportedly been earmarked as a potential venue for swimming.

The athletics facility is named after Dame Mary, the 76-year-old who is one of the country's best known and respected figures after she won the Olympic gold medal in the pentathlon at the Games in Munich in 1972.

The Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council (NICGC) has been working on its bid for over a year and the CGF claim they have given the promise of an inclusive and accessible event, focused on ensuring staging the Games lays a platform for Northern Ireland to continue to perform at the elite level in the future.

The Commonwealth Youth Games is contested by athletes aged 14 to 18 and 1,000 athletes are set to descend on Northern Ireland for the seventh edition of the event.

Those who compete at the Games are likely to be housed in university accommodation as part of a commitment from the host nation to keep the costs of staging the competition, which is set to be held in July in a bid to allow as many youngsters to watch the action as possible, to a minimum.

Athletics events at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021 could be held at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast
Athletics events at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021 could be held at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast ©Belfast City Council

"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,” CGF President Louise Martin 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 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.”

Northern Ireland have achieved at least one medal at each edition of the Commonwealth Games since 1954 and the country finished eighth on the medals table at the last Commonwealth Youth Games, held in Samoa in September of last year.

The country has a population of around two million people and makes up part of the United Kingdom along with England, Scotland and Wales.

“On behalf of the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council I'm delighted to accept this offer to host the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2021,” NICGC chairman Robert McVeigh added.

“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 eight age to strive towards being part of the largest ever TeamNI at a Commonwealth Youth Games.

“We look forward to the tremendous support for which the Northern Ireland public is renowned.”