52. Perhaps the most prominent of Wales's sporting
venues is the Millennium Stadium, described by one commentator
as "Wales's own Sydney Opera House" after the recent
League Cup final between Liverpool and Birmingham City.
However, there are a many world-class sports facilities in Wales
including Canolfan Tryweryn, the national white water canoe centre;
the national competitive sailing centre at Pwllheli; the Celtic
Manor Resort, which is seeking to host the Ryder Cup; Glamorgan
County Cricket Club's ground, which has hosted one-day internationals
and the Welsh Institute of Sport. The Wales National Swimming
Pool in Swansea is due to be completed in March 2002.
53. Sport is important to promoting Wales in the
world for several reasons. It is a big business in its own rightfans
spend millions each year on tickets, merchandising and subscription
television servicesand hosting major sporting events creates
economic spin-offs for local businesses as a result of the influx
of people attending the event. Sport is important in raising Wales's
national profile since, in sports such as rugby and football,
Wales competes as a nation in its own right, rather than under
the Great Britain or UK banner. We note the particular success
of Welsh athletes in the Great Britain team at the 2000 Paralympics,
which has undoubtedly helped to raise Wales's profile abroad.
The First Minister described sport as "the origin of devolution
in the UK," arguing that, if the home nations of the UK had
not continued to play football against each other, Scotland and
Wales might have been "absorbed into a great English mass
Sport is also important as a marketing springboard for tourismThe
Sports Council for Wales is currently working with the WTB on
the development of a sports tourism strategy.
54. UK Sport was established by Royal Charter in
1996 and became fully operational on 1 January 1997. It is responsible
for fostering, supporting and encouraging the development of sport
and physical recreation and the achievement of excellence in the
UK and the provision of sporting facilities at the UK level. It
takes the lead among the sports councils in all aspects requiring
strategic planning administration, coordination or representation
for the benefit of the UK as a whole, identifying sporting policies
that should have a UKwide application and areas of unnecessary
duplication, overlap and waste in the way sport is administered
in the UK.
In particular, it is responsible for coordinating bids for major
international sporting events from different parts of the UK and
for attracting such events to the UK.
55. The Sports Council for Wales (SCW) is an Assembly-sponsored
public body established by Royal Charter. Its role is to develop
sport in Wales by increasing the numbers of people participating
in sportparticularly children and young people and
raising standards of excellence and performance in Welsh sport.
It receives funding from the National Assembly and from the National
56. The Sports Council for Wales told us that UK
bodies appear to be struggling to clarify whether their role is
to promote the UK or Great Britain as a single entity or to promote
the four home nations.
We detected some of the same confusion with DCMS officials when
we asked about the Department's role in promoting the rival Welsh
and Scottish bids for the Ryder Cup.
They have since confirmed that the Department has taken no part
in promoting the bids from any of the three UK destinations, although
they would lend the appropriate promotional and diplomatic support
to a winning bid.
57. Under the present system, UK Sport's role is
to offer advice and support to sporting governing bodies which
wish to bid for major international events. It was established
to act as a centre of expertise at the disposal of bids from across
the UK, to provide a greater element of coordination than was
possible through the four home country sports councils and to
provide resources which were unlikely to be available to the smaller
countries. It is difficult to say whether and to what extent the
present arrangements work to Wales's advantage. One option would
be a fully centralised system in which bids to host sporting events
from different parts of the UK had to compete with each other
to be accepted as the official UK bid before receiving full backing
from the Government and UK Sport. This is what happens with sports
such as athletics, where there is a single UK governing body (UK
Athletics) which has decided on the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham
as the UK bid for the 2003 World Championships.
Another would be a free-for-all in which the national associations
were able to bid against each other freely, along with foreign
countries. This is essentially what is happening with the Ryder
On the strength of the evidence we have taken we would not
propose any changes to the present arrangements for coordinating
bids for international sporting events from different parts of
the UK. It appears that, while there is a sensible level of coordination,
Welsh sporting bodies cannot be prevented from bidding where they
believe it is in their interests to do so.