Commonwealth Games ‘not a vanity project’, insists Dorries

The Commonwealth Games open on Thursday, promising to be the biggest sporting festival in the UK since the London Olympics a decade ago.

The event will open in Birmingham with the Prince of Wales in attendance, representing the Queen.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the city is “buzzing” and defended the expense of hosting the games at a time when the country is facing a cost-of-living crisis.

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Nadine Dorries defended the cost of hosting the Commonwealth Games (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The event had a £778 million budget, funded by the Government and Birmingham City Council.

Ms Dorries rejected claims it was a “vanity project” and stressed the importance of the Commonwealth as a trading and geopolitical bloc.

Birmingham was awarded the games after scheduled host Durban in South Africa pulled out over financial problems.

Ms Dorries told Sky News: “It’s not a vanity project… This is hugely important.

“Are you saying we shouldn’t have the Commonwealth Games? I think we are proud and honoured to have picked up the baton when it was dropped elsewhere in the world and to continue to run these Commonwealth Games in the amazing way that we have done.

“Everybody here – thousands of people – are extremely proud, including the volunteers behind me right now, extremely proud of what we’re doing.”

Over the next 11 days more than 5,000 athletes from 72 nations will compete in 280 events across 19 sports.

Ms Dorries told LBC: “The city is buzzing, it’s alive. It reminds me of the 2012 Olympics. The feeling in Birmingham and the West Midlands is incredibly upbeat and positive. ”

She added: “I think the Commonwealth today is more important than ever, particularly given what’s happening in Ukraine and with Russia and also with China.”