There have been calls to dump the Commonwealth Games in light of Durban’s 2022 failure this week.
Channel 7’s Ryan Phelan and former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett are amongst those to question the longevity of the ‘Friendly Games’.
“I think the Commonwealth Games will find it increasingly difficult to stage the games,” Kennett told 3AW Breakfast.
“I think they should be looking for a permanent city. And in that case if I were Melbourne, I’d be putting forward a proposition that would argue we would hold the next two or three Games.”
No Deal Durban
Durban was stripped of the games after failing to meet key obligations. The Commonwealth Games Federation has said that Durban failed to meet the promises it made during its bid.
This is a huge blow for the diversity of the games. The Durban event would have been the first ever Commonwealth Games held in Africa which began way back in 1930.
Durban’s demise raises some serious questions about whether we should even bother with the Commonwealth Games.
An Ageing Concept
The Commonwealth Games were originally known as British Empire Games. The concept itself, all Britain’s colonies getting together for a big sports competition, was perhaps relevant in 1934 when they had cracking sports like quoits. But now let’s be honest, does anyone really care anymore?
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 71 Commonwealth ‘teams’ competed. Note the use of the word ‘teams’ because the likes of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland who officially fall under the banner of Great Britain, compete as standalone teams under their own flag. Confusing isn’t it?
One look at the location map of the games host cities and you can see a major problem.
As you can see from the map, almost all the Commonwealth Games have been held in Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The games have never been held in Africa and only twice in Asia.
The Commonwealth Games authority are really shooting themselves in the foot by always holding the event in the same places.
XXI Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast 2018
As we all know the next Commonwealth Games will be held in Australia on the Gold Coast.
The Queen has already announced that she won’t be attending. Who could blame her. She turns 91 next month and would rather spend her spare time playing Xbox and hosting her own Corgi Games in the Buckingham Palace backyard.
I worked for the host broadcaster of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games back in 2006. There’s no doubt the Melbourne Games delivered some inspiring moments. The late Kerryn McCann’s women’s marathon win had the MCG crowd in tears.
“A bit shit”
Even athletes are starting to complain about the games. Case in point was superstar Usain Bolt who reportedly said that the Commonwealth Games were “a bit shit.”
Bolt since denied the reports but the Times journalist Katie Gibbons who broke the story has always stood by it. Either way, there is no doubt the Commonwealth Games are a huge step down from the Olympics.
Time To Move On
Let’s be honest the days of the British Empire being a world power are over. Even in England the queen and the royal family are not much more than figureheads. The royal family are only really relevant to trashy tabloid magazines and rusted on monarchists. The concept of the Commonwealth Games is fast losing its relevance as well. In the wake of the Durban 2022 failure, now is probably the perfect time to phase out the Commonwealth Games or at least Australia’s involvement.
There are some other fantastic global sporting events that Australia could try to be a part of. Australia is reportedly in discussions to take part in Asian Games from 2022. Given our geographical location on Asia’s doorstep, this seems like a much better fit for our athletes than clinging on to the tired and archaic Commonwealth Games format.
by Michael T. Lynch – contributor