Australia could give the Commonwealth Games a good home | the examiner

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As is well documented, while tiny Hamilton in Canada with a population roughly the size of Tasmania looks eager to host the centennial edition, the Commonwealth Games have no home until 2026. In fact, unlike this year’s Games , which was supposed to take place in Durban but ended up in Birmingham, has never hosted a 2026. Despite the Commonwealth Games Federation understanding the problem and substantially reinventing its own expectations for its banner product, no city has, at least until now her interest developed enough to be anointed as a host. It will be hugely beneficial to Australian sport as a whole, from the grassroots to the pinnacle of the elite pyramid, when the Commonwealth Games are held across the country in four years’ time. But if it’s Melbourne and Victoria, as has been suggested this week, that’s certainly the best possible outcome of all. Never mind that all of this would mean that Australia has hosted the Games three times in two decades, nor that Melbourne would book that span. After all, in the various debates about securing the future of the Games and its relevance, a permanent venue has always been an option. This is just a variation on that theme. The changes made by the CGF make it absolutely possible for a host to get ahead with just four years to go. And why not? Aside from the need to build infrastructure, if any, there seems to be no real reason why the traditional lead time of six to eight years is needed. Who knows how those responsible for the Brisbane Olympics will deal with the next ten years – especially considering that there are already many facilities there and just need a refurbishment. The risk to them is that they bring in staff, contractors and consultants who may already be working on Plan Z before the Games actually start. Melbourne would be perfect, but other Australian cities and regions are still in play for the Games, seeking the nod of Commonwealth Games Australia. Adelaide – originally the restless host when the CGF knocked on Australia’s door – may be the only major player in the race. There are three major changes to the Games hosting rules that make hosting feasible or even desirable in the short term. First of all, there is no expectation that all or most sports will be hosted in one location. It used to be the case, especially in shooting and the early rounds of team sports tournaments, but now it is allowed, even positively encouraged. Second, it is not mandatory to provide a centralized village for athletes and officials. In the past, this was certainly a crucial element in making what came to be known as The Friendly Games, but even with a cost neutral concept to sell it as housing afterwards, it took time to build and furnish. Obviously, it’s also counterintuitive to any concept of decentralized delivery. Third, and most importantly, there are now only two compulsory sports: athletics and swimming. The anointed host, the national Commonwealth Games association and the CGF can determine what best suits the local environment for up to 18 years or so. There is no longer a limited list to choose from, just a requirement that each be an internationally practiced sport. So let’s say Victoria gets the gig. You can surf almost anywhere at Bells Beach, mountain biking, park sports, sport climbing, hockey, basketball or netball. AFL, trugo and vigoro probably don’t qualify, but the Canadians and Kiwis could help loggers file a case. The new paradigm opens up all kinds of possibilities – croquet, for example, is popular in many Commonwealth countries. But any study of the current demographics examining elite-level lawn bowls would reveal that a sport that starts with a more senior cohort quickly turns into something completely different when such opportunities arise. Each host of the Games will prioritize sports that are popular with spectators and television viewers, as well as recreational and elite participants alike. But with a short lead time, those that can be presented in existing facilities at low cost will be very attractive.


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