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City takes Malta under its wing

CHESTER has become the latest local authority to adopt a country in the run-up to next year's Commonwealth Games.

CHESTER has become the latest local authority to adopt a country in the run-up to next year's Commonwealth Games.

The city has extended the hand of friendship to Malta as part of a scheme to link towns and cities throughout the North West with many of the 72 competing nations.

Officials from Chester City Council are now preparing to welcome athletes from the Mediterranean island when they arrive to take part in the Games in Manchester next July.

Schools, colleges, organisations and residents are also being encouraged to form friendship links with the adopted nation and there are plans for a series of civic activities devoted to Malta.

These include an invitation for athletes from the country to visit Chester before the Games and take part in sporting events in the city.

Economic development officer, Rod Playford, said: "The 2002 Commonwealth Games is going to be the biggest sporting event ever staged in Britain and we want to show our wholehearted support.

"We thought adopting a country was an excellent way of welcoming the competing nations, and Malta was the obvious choice because it already has strong links with Chester.

"It's a member of the International War Town Friendship Circle, like Chester, and it has strong naval and military links with us which arose out of World War II.

"Also, Malta is seeking membership of the European Union and we feel that by strengthening links with the country we might be able to help them to become full members of Europe."

The adoption is expected to be formally approved by the Games' organisers within the next few days.

Celebrations of Malta are being planned by the city.

A festival of sporting events also is being planned in the run-up to the Games, involving local schoolchildren.

An invitation will be extended to the athletes to visit Chester before the Games to spend time in the city and hopefully take part in civic events and visit local schools.

When they arrive in Britain for the Games, the athletes will be welcomed with a civic reception at the town hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor.

An exhibition dedicated to Malta, to reflect its culture, will go on display at the Grosvenor Museum featuring the work of Maltese artists.

Other plans will be made public when the adoption bid is formally approved.

The celebrations will be spearheaded by a working party, already set up by the council, to co-ordinate the work of other Commonwealth Games-linked events in the area.

Chester's adoption bid follows that of Crewe and Nantwich, who have linked with the Republic of Kiribati in the South Pacific.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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