Sailing: Ireland all but out of America's Cup hosting race as political pressures rise

Ireland's hopes of hosting the next America's Cup look all but over, as decision day looms.

The location for the 37th edition of the Cup is expected to be announced on Friday with Spain, Ireland and Saudi Arabia all having been understood to be potential venues.

But the Irish Government has told organisers it would require a further six months to assess support for the bid, likely ending its ambitions to host the 2024 event.

"It is a significant investment, we'll be looking for further time to make sure we can stand over it," Ireland's Minister for Sport Catherine Martin told the Irish Independent. "I think further assessment is needed."

"It's essential there's time for proper governance, assessment, to make sure the public spending codes, for example, are adhered to. That's what has to be examined to make sure it's worth doing."

It comes after The Irish Times reported that Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, faced "growing resistance in the coalition Government".

"There is also uncertainty over the potential returns from a major state investment in an elite event, at a time when many other sports remain underfunded," he said.

"To ask for hundreds of millions to be invested you need to quantify it. With any bid like that, you have to ensure ducks in a row and value for money."

Team New Zealand after winning the America's Cup in Auckland. Photo / Photosport

It leaves the decision between Spain and Saudi Arabia, with Auckland a faint hope as private funding is sought.

The Spanish bid is powered by government money and has the backing of the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, and the central government. No single city has been named but Barcelona seems a distinct possibility.

Meanwhile, there is no sign yet that Saudi Arabia reportedly throwing boatloads of cash to secure the event is anything but speculation.

There are other issues that may cloud their bid too – the wind in Jeddah is less than ideal and human rights and political considerations could affect challengers from the US and even from the UK, with Ineos Team UK the Challenger of Record.


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