LONDON The English cities of Birmingham and Liverpool have expressed interest in hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games after Durban was stripped of the right on Monday.
"Here in Birmingham we are already in the advanced stages of producing a detailed feasibility study on what would be needed for a truly memorable games in the city," said Ian Ward, the deputy leader of Birmingham City Council in a statement.
"That is due to be completed in the coming weeks and we are in close contact with the Government about the developing situation."
Birmingham had already expressed an interest in staging the 2026 Games, as had Liverpool.
The BBC quoted a spokesperson for Liverpool City Council as saying they had "already indicated to the government that we are very willing to host them (the 2022 Games) instead."
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) said Durban, which had hoped to be the first African city to host the Games, had failed to meet the promises contained in its bid and the search for a replacement host was now on.
Anticipating trouble with Durban, the CGF recently acquired the power to choose a new host city without a formal bid process.
Its executive vice president Kereyn Smith, also the head of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, confirmed the CGF would invite cities seen as willing and capable of holding the Games to step in, and said the next host needed to be settled quickly.
"I think the time frame is a matter of months, certainly not longer than that," she told New Zealand radio.
"The President (of the CGF) Louise Martin is working with cities that have the ability and the facilities and they can quickly get the money together to make a commitment to do that."
New Zealand, which last hosted the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990, said it had no interest in hosting 2022.
"We have no intention of taking over the 2022 Commonwealth Games," sports minister Jonathan Coleman told local media.
"There is a lot of infrastructure that needs to be built across the country and this ranks well down our list of priorities."
Canadian media said Durban's withdrawal might revive interest in Edmonton which pulled out of the 2022 bid in 2015, leaving the South African city the sole bidder.
“This raises the some interesting possibilities ... but the city could not undertake this alone,” the Edmonton Journal quoted the city's mayor Don Iveson as saying.
The 2018 Games will be held on Australia's Gold Coast.
Smith held out the possibility of the Gold Coast holding back-to-back Games to host 2022 but city officials poured cold water on the idea.
"Council will not consider hosting the 2022 games as we will be working tirelessly on our legacy outcomes from the 2018 Games experience," Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said.
Australia has been an enthusiastic participant in the Commonwealth Games, which take place every four years and bring together athletes from the 52 members of the Commonwealth, most of which were at one time colonies of Britain.
Melbourne (2006), Brisbane (1982) and Perth (1962) have all hosted the Games before.
Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) said it would "support the CGF in any way required" to ensure 2022 went ahead.
"Commonwealth Games Australia has not been approached by the CGF regarding an alternate host city for 2022," it said in a statement.
"If that approach does come, it is something that we will give due consideration."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London and Ian Ransom in Melbourne; editing by Ed Osmond/Nick Mulvenney)