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The Commonwealth Games: Is The End In Sight?


Alexjc

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If there is still a community here on GB Forums, I wouldn't mind having a centralized discussion here on what the future, if there will be one, of the Commonwealth Games.

Clearly we have seen since at least 2014, a disinterest in hosting what is now considered an anachronism from another time. 

Cost verses benefits seems to be what causes local politics to shy away without the help of provincial/state or central governments whom are usually luke-warm to dishing out money for what is little more than a 14 day sports extravaganza of countries that only have British colonization...in most cases...not entirely peaceful, as a distant connection.

The big elephant is expense...We have seen what can go wrong when it gets out of hand, especially when "developing" countries try to host...The mismanagement and corruption of 2010 being a letdown after decades of India wanting to host and the heartbreak of South Africa not willing to back it's host city, Durban, in providing funding. Both countries considered wealthy enough but unable to justify the pointless over reaching costs.

And now we have the shattered World of the "Post Covid Era" beginning to emerge from hibernation. Sports around the world now having to rebuild momentum lost. Even the Olympics are struggling to host a delayed games as I write this in 2021. 

If the Games are to survive, what needs to be done?

Points to ponder:

Commonwealth relevance: Are we still a unified Commonwealth? Countries are beginning to retreat into regional trade and cultural blocs of relevance.

Demise of Queen Elizabeth II: The aura surrounding QEII is as astounding as it will ever be. She has always been considered the glue that holds the Commonwealth together but we need to realize that her reign is almost over, every chance she will be around for 2022, thankfully another home games for her, but 2026 suddenly doesn't look realistic anymore after she lost her "rock" this year. Quite a few countries may consider it an opportune time to call it a day when she passes.

City hosts v Regional hosts: We all know that money is the central issue here. This multisport event has to contend with others as well as singular events that can unify a nation rather than focusing on a sole city. Could it be more prudent for the CWGs to become a nationwide event just to spread out the costs? This was an idea that New Zealand proposed some time back...mainly to hold back apathy from regional centres who rightfully want to know why their taxes should be used.

Regular guaranteed hosting circuit: Even if it's just for 12 to 16 years. Could the CGF follow the IOC in awarding multi-host regulars...currently the only countries that take interest are Australia and the UK. Nothing wrong in having pre-prepared facilities to use. (See below)

Make use of what you got: Nothing wrong in refurbishing facilities rather than building bigger and better only to find that you are left with a ghost town costing locals for years after. Temporary facilities are considered a normal thing nowadays, and not considered a cheap cop out. The IOC is finally realizing this. We have seen good examples in 1994, 2014 and even 2018 (those games considered one of the best). 2002 was seen as another example of a city using what it had and used a pre planned built stadium (Man City's) as it's focus that worked well...which leads to:

Sustainability: What of the legacy? The classic is always the "got to have" purpose built Athlete's village. Long gone are the days of the local university's student dorms or military base barracks being used. Today we build neighborhoods in multi stack form...This is the crux of a hosting as most cities need new housing estates and nowhere in the world can they be built fast enough...2014 was one of the best examples and this is what could tilt a games in a city's favour. It's a great excuse to give it a go...Something Auckland has tried to push in it's plans.

Regional and Global Security: Clearly we have seen a dangerous paradigm shift in global politics, more so in the last decade, as the world becomes a more unstable place. Covid has only inflamed this. We have gone from one Superpower in the last 25 years to the birth of a new one and return of another. We have seen the rise of Left and Right extremisms, UK leaving Europe causing instability, and a surge in military spending. Countries are moving to secure their positions in this new world and want a new outlook....

Yes there will still be a Commonwealth of sorts, but it will keep fading into the either and, although there may be a couple of hosting's left for them, I cant see the Commonwealth Games making it out of, let alone, into the 2030s unless a whole new iteration for the is made.

My thoughts...What are yours?

 

 

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Beyond the fear of cost overruns, I think one of the major concerns is that people no longer see the benefits of hosting as a real benefit. When handled well, mega events can be useful tools for urban redevelopment. But unfortunately gentrification is now a dirty word, as people want both low housing prices/cost of living AND high wages in a thriving economy. (Never mind the fact that this is a contradiction: your cost of living is your neighbors' wages.) The success of London 2012 in gentrifying east London has not been entirely welcomed, for example.

In Canada I think the desire for cultural connection to the UK remains strong, as it is a major part of their national identity. (Along with ice hockey and pretending to be able to speak French.) But very few people in Canada care about sports like netball or track cycling, and very few people watch the games or even know when they are being held.

I think the Commonwealth Games should become a Commonwealth Festival with culture (music, arts, cuisine, etc.) given an equal share of the focus with sport. As a semi-outsider it seems like the other countries of the Commonwealth still care a great deal about cultural ties with the motherland and each other. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I really hope you are wrong. I love the Commonwealth Games. There is a reason why they call it the Friendship Games. That is because of what the CWG is all about! There are cities in the Commonwealth that can host the games but for whatever reason aren't putting their hands up. Yes that is right, I am looking at you New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Kuala Lumpur, Wales, Sri Lanka, South Africa.

Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin, Tasmania all haven't hosted the Games in Australia so they could host it to provide a different city if it needs to come back to Australia.

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  • 2 years later...

As someone who used to strongly support the concept of the Commies, I gotta say, I think they really have reached the end of the road. They’ve now just lost any aura or prestige they may have once had, and the cost/benefits ratio just isn’t worthwhile for ANYONE any more. And now the Queen has passed, their irrelevancy is just so stark. Victoria’s bowing out is a real death knell.

Pity, and the CGF may well still try to salvage some sort of event, but IMO about time to just wave them goodbye.

Edited by Sir Rols
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:( Oh what a sad day for the Commonwealth Games.

I fear this really could be it. 

Australia has always been a bulwark host simply because no one else wanted them. But the cost to host outweighs the benefits even though Victoria is worth a visit outside of Melbourne.

As Rols mentioned, they did have a special place in sports.

New Zealand Govt has already announced they simply cannot bid in time for 2026. And this also puts in jepody the study into a 2034 hosting.

Not a great day for the Commonwealth.

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Well the CGF CEO Katie Sadleir has done an exclusive interview with The Australian newspaper from London tonight and is claiming that "other Australian states had already been in touch", which is a bit different than what State Premiers were saying today

Interesting development

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  • 3 weeks later...

Alberta has just withdrawn from placing a bid for the 2030 Games...

Which means there is no one wanting to host the CWGs this side of 2034.

Now what?...London?

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Really is looking tricky.

Two potential options I see.    Awarding one city 2026 and 2030 - effectively halving the infrastructure cost across two games, though it's not quite as simple as this.   On the one hand that's a safer option, on the other if they pull out you're still losing two hosts.  

 

Another could be guest hosts - inviting cities outside the Commonwealth to host, with that country then getting to compete at least for the games they host, if not as guest competitors in future events too.    Whether anyone would want to is another matter.

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On 5/21/2021 at 12:28 AM, Victorian said:

There is a reason why they call it the Friendship Games. That is because of what the CWG is all about!

There is also room to question of what this friendship is based on in first place. Even if the CWG are friendly, they still started as the Britsh Empire Games, and that might be the real question here: for most of these countries, why celebrate the royals who slaved or genocided them...

2 hours ago, Brekkie Boy said:

Another could be guest hosts - inviting cities outside the Commonwealth to host, with that country then getting to compete at least for the games they host, if not as guest competitors in future events too.    Whether anyone would want to is another matter.

USA? That would be the sole viable option that would make sense due to the shared history, but it would be funny to see the Empire Games end up in the land of the empire who succeded them.

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Ahmedabad had indicated interest in hosting 2026 although there has been silence in the past few weeks about this- I think 2030 would be better for India has it will give them an extra 4 years of preparation. It would then also be handy preparation if they wish to host an Olympics. 

The Gold Coast are very keen in hosting but it’s reliant on either State or Federal funding. I know the region hosted in 2018 but it would be a good opportunity to test things ahead of the 2032 Olympics. 
 

I think Singapore would make a great host and they’ve got the facilities too. Is there a reason why they don’t want to host? 

Without the Commonwealth Games, there would be no Sydney 2000, London 2012 or Brisbane 2032. People forget that. Those bids all came off the back off successful Commonwealth Games. 
 

Provincial and state Governments are the ones that are holding all the power with this. It means absolutely nothing if mayors or councils are keen and want to host.

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6 minutes ago, Victorian said:

Without the Commonwealth Games, there would be no Sydney 2000, London 2012 or Brisbane 2032. People forget that. Those bids all came off the back off successful Commonwealth Games. 

Seriously???

I’ll give you Brisbane. But Sydney 2000? Australia was already mulling Olympic bids before the 1982 commies. The most it did was prompt Brissie to test the waters. And the UK was long determined to land an Olympics before 2002 - they’d already bid in the 1990s with Birmingham and Manchester only to be told they needed to offer London if they were to stand a chance. 2002 and 2006 were consolation prizes for their respective hosts.

the only two Olympics that benefited or were prompted by second tier hostings I’d argue were Rio (after their Pan-Ams, but again their Olympic aspirations preceded those) and as I concede, Brisbane.

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38 minutes ago, Sir Rols said:

Seriously???

I’ll give you Brisbane. But Sydney 2000? Australia was already mulling Olympic bids before the 1982 commies. The most it did was prompt Brissie to test the waters. And the UK was long determined to land an Olympics before 2002 - they’d already bid in the 1990s with Birmingham and Manchester only to be told they needed to offer London if they were to stand a chance. 2002 and 2006 were consolation prizes for their respective hosts.

the only two Olympics that benefited or were prompted by second tier hostings I’d argue were Rio (after their Pan-Ams, but again their Olympic aspirations preceded those) and as I concede, Brisbane.

If Manchester 2002 or Brisbane 1982 failed would Sydney and London had’ve won their Olympic bids? no

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6 minutes ago, Victorian said:

If Manchester 2002 or Brisbane 1982 failed would Sydney and London had’ve won their Olympic bids? no

That’s a pretty long bow to draw. First, there’s no reason to suppose either would have “failed” (whatever that would have been).

And second, Edinburgh 1986 was close to a fail (Thatcher refused any funding for them - she was always antipathetic to the Commonwealth - messing up the organisation immensely). Yet, that didn’t stop the UK bidding for the Olympics from the late 1980s onwards. And the Birmingham and Manchester Olympics bids didn’t fail because of Edinburgh 86’s shortcomings, more the quality of opposition they were up against.

I still think the commies influence on the Olympics and IOC is totally negligible.

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28 minutes ago, Scotguy II said:

The Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Youth Games 2023 took place earlier and i think the ceremony sums up the state of the CG currently lol

https://www.youtube.com/live/Of5rhK8zopA?si=hC-2-JpHqST9-2Gl 

 

:wacko: I only got as far as 1 minute 30...OMG!!!

It's over.

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Its hilarious that during the time in which this organisation should have been scaling down and adapting to the writing on the wall (a sole bidder for 2006 in 1999) they instead didn't address the key concerns around cost and scale and put its energy into a Youth version (which oddly inspired the Olympic equivalent). 

The Olympics has more prestige but they should heed the lessons of the Commonwealth Games' fate. I feel like the Olympics are only a political blip away from host withdrawals - or one of their ambiguous "targeted" cities backing out leaving them high and dry. 

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20 hours ago, Australian Kiwi said:

The Olympics has more prestige but they should heed the lessons of the Commonwealth Games' fate. I feel like the Olympics are only a political blip away from host withdrawals - or one of their ambiguous "targeted" cities backing out leaving them high and dry. 

It's already happened once to them, & ironically enough it was a winter Games, which are currently seeing the most trouble in attracting suitable candidates as it is.

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11 hours ago, FYI said:

It's already happened once to them, & ironically enough it was a winter Games, which are currently seeing the most trouble in attracting suitable candidates as it is.

Absolutely. 

One of the learnings of the 2026 Commonwealth Games is that without the benefit of time, your only level becomes money. If money is a problem, your event is toast.

I think the 2030 Winter Olympics ending up in the wrong hands is the biggest risk for the IOC right now. Each month they have that event unawarded the greater the pressure and cost the continues to build upon the host. Its a bellcurve. 

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There can be no doubting the existential crisis that the Commonwealth Games is currently facing. If the extent of that crisis had not been made clear by either Victoria's withdrawal in 2026 or the current lack of interest in hosting the centennial event in 2030, the fact that a senior official is openly talking about the possibility of delaying the 2026 game should leave absolutely no room for confusion. Although it wouldn't surprise me one bit if it came to pass, the idea that the Commonwealth Games may be no more is one that I find very sad, particularly having spent some wonderful days in Glasgow when that city was a superb host nine years ago.

I think one of the main problems the Commonwealth Games has had is that it falls between two stools in terms of events and their potential legacies. On the one hand, it's not a big enough event to be staged with the sort of grandeur and scale one might expect with an Olympics. Yet, on the other, it is too big for a lot of nations to foot the bill of hosting without generating the kind of benefits that would justify that expense. I've no doubt, for example, that Wales would be a brilliant host if the political will was there to go for it, but its record of going for big single sport events (Rugby World Cup, Ashes Tests, Ryder Cup, Champions League final) suggests a view that similar benefits can be accrued at a fraction of the cost. Current economic challenges mean that problem is not going to go away any time soon either.

So is there a solution? Can the Commonwealth Games survive this time? Despite the currently gloomy picture, I do think they can if there remains a willingness for member nations to take part and if the CGF is able to buy itself some time to work out what the future looks like. Doing the latter necessitates getting a new host on board for 2026 quickly and, given the seeming lack of appetite in Australia or elsewhere at the moment, I think there is little choice but to come back to the UK and probably to either London or Birmingham. If that can be done soon, then that should give the CGF some breathing space for economic outlooks to brighten and potentially open up the field for 2030 and beyond. If that doesn't happen, or unless another solution emerges, it's probably over.

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On 8/5/2023 at 2:41 AM, Sir Rols said:

That’s a pretty long bow to draw. First, there’s no reason to suppose either would have “failed” (whatever that would have been).

And second, Edinburgh 1986 was close to a fail (Thatcher refused any funding for them - she was always antipathetic to the Commonwealth - messing up the organisation immensely). Yet, that didn’t stop the UK bidding for the Olympics from the late 1980s onwards. And the Birmingham and Manchester Olympics bids didn’t fail because of Edinburgh 86’s shortcomings, more the quality of opposition they were up against.

I still think the commies influence on the Olympics and IOC is totally negligible.

Thatcher wasn't bothered about sport in general, not just the Commonwealth. Certainly the Birmingham bid for 1992 didn't get any Government support and I don't think either of the Manchester bids did either (bear in mind decisions on those were both pre-Lottery funding of elite sport), so I'd agree with you about Edinburgh 86. However, while I take your point about the IOC's 'London or nothing' message, I think the success of Manchester 2002 was absolutely critical to London 2012 in that it helped to persuade the then Labour government to back the bid. Without that, we wouldn't have had a hope in hell of winning that bid, particularly in the field we were up against. 

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14 hours ago, Scotguy II said:

He is my next door neighbour :) 

I think we are going to see the NZOC either quietly drop the 2034 proposal or propose a much-scaled back Games. The cost is horrific for what is a carnival event.

As someone who has lived through the CWGs glory years and it's fall to insignificance...Also watching NZ's last two realistic chances to host (2006 and 2018) fizzle out because of no real plan and objectives. A shame really because 2018 was handed to NZ on a plate...Gold Coast would have withdrawn it's bid.

Honestly, I cannot see the CWGs in the nation's event planning up to 2042. Easier for it to host the World Track and Field Championships. There was a proposal to host an APEC regional games many years ago...

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