The finest young athletes from up to 70 nations and territories will converge on Northern Ireland for the Commonwealth Youth Games 2021, it has been revealed.
Formally announcing the decision at Belfast City Hall on Monday, the games’ organisers said hosting the competition “empowers even the smallest nations to have a profound and distinctive impact ... on an international scale”.
Around 1,000 athletes, aged between 14 and 18, will take part in a range of events from July 27 to August 1.
World champion boxer Carl Frampton, Olympic bronze medalist Michael Conlan, and swimming champion Sycerika McMahon are among Northern Irish athletes to have previously competed at the games.
For heptahtlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, the Commonwealth Youth Games were a springboard to future glory at both the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games chairman Robert McVeigh said yesterday’s announcement was a “hugely significant day” for local sport, and 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.”
Mr McVeigh added: “We look forward to the tremendous support for which the Northern Ireland public is renowned.”
Salto centre in Lisburn is expected to host the gymnastics, Aurora complex in Bangor the swimming and Mary Peters Track in Belfast the athletics.
TeamNI finished eighth in the medal table when the last games were staged in Samoa in September.
Belfast Lord Mayor Arder Carson has welcomed the decision of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
He said: “When major events come to our city we get involved in our thousands and embrace the festival atmosphere. We will support the Commonwealth Youth Games with as much vigour as we have previous global events such as Giro d’Italia and Tall Ships Race.”
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: “The games provide an excellent opportunity for aspiring young athletes from the Commonwealth family to take part in international competition, whilst also offering spectators the chance to see the sports stars of the future in action.”
For further information visit www.belfast2021.com