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What is the future of the Commonwealth Games? A change of course is expected | Commonwealth Games

It’s not easy to go one year after the Tokyo Olympics and only five days after the end of the World Championships in Athletics.

In recent days, packages have multiplied for the Commonwealth Games organized every four years and which this year bring together 5,000 athletes representing 72 countries and territories, most of them former British colonies, competing in 19 disciplines.

Last package to date, the Australian Kelsey-Lee Barber, just crowned world javelin champion for the second time. The bronze medalist from the last Olympic Games joins Olympic champions Andre De Grasse, Kirani James, Neeraj Chopra and British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith on the list of notable absentees.

It may not be over: doubts hang over the participation of the golden trio of Jamaican sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah.

Absences which revive the debate on the legitimacy of such regional Games, which, like the Mediterranean Games or the Games of the Francophonie, are often perceived as a relic of ancient times, the first edition dates back to 1930 – and which to exist in an already overloaded international sports calendar.

The Canadian delegation at the opening ceremony

Photo: dpa via getty images / GLYN KIRK

These other Games are not the Olympics, but they tend to try to emulate them in look, feel and impact. It’s just not possible or believableexplains to AFP Terrence Burns, former official of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

I think an event that aspires to be global, but which by definition limits its base of participation to a limited set of countries and territories, faces the challenge of attracting fan interest on a global scale as well than that of the host cityhe continues, noting that by definition, the potential for marketing and sponsorship revenue is limited.

For Birmingham, a former manufacturing city that was an unsuccessful candidate for the organization of the 1992 Olympic Games, and its region, hosting the competition certainly does not have an Olympic dimension, but it is nevertheless not insignificant from an economic point of view, with overall revenue estimated at one billion pounds, or 1.55 billion Canadian dollars.

For Terrence Burns, the challenge for the Commonwealth Games is to find their own niche in order to build (…) their identity accordingly.

A job to which the organizers of the event have set themselves.

Among their proposals, the program could include no more than two compulsory sports, swimming and athletics, the rest of the events being left to the choice of the host cities.

Soon lacrosse on the program?

The goal? Attracting a wider audience and reinforcing the distinctiveness of the Commonwealth Games, which already give pride of place to several non-Olympic sports, such as squash, netball and bowls, the British version of petanque. Also this year, for the first time, women’s cricket.

Other confidential disciplines, but particularly popular in certain regions of the world, such as lacrosse in Canada or kabaddi in India, could thus be integrated in the long term.

A helmeted player holds a stick.

Lacrosse soon at the Commonwealth Games?

Photo: Shutterstock / Catwalk Photos

I think it would be a win-win situation for everyone as it would then open up the Commonwealth Games to other smaller countries and for me that is the way to goestimated in 2021 the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), Dame Louise Martin.

Because the other advantage of competition is to allow small countries in world sport to exist, which is not possible for them during major events.says former CIO marketing manager Michael Payne.

For many, it’s their only moment on the world stage with an opportunity to shine. (…) Because at the Olympics, they have no chance of getting a medalhe points out.

Witness the efforts made by Sri Lanka (2 medals at the Olympic Games in 17 participations against 23 at the Commonwealth Games), weighed down by a serious economic crisis, to be present in Birmingham.

We want to stand tall like other countries before our flag, as a proud and upright countryexplained the head of the island’s delegation, retired General Dampath Fernando.

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