Commonwealth cost concerns could expose wider issues
It’s sad to realise that just when it seemed we had recovered the knack of winning medals at the Commonwealth Games, our athletes might be denied that chance in the future.
Following Australia’s withdrawal from hosting the 2026 event, the Commonwealth Games now stands at a crossroads. Just seven years short of marking the centenary of what began as the British Empire Games, it’s widely felt that the Games may not make it, and certainly not in their current form.
Cities don’t want to go bankrupt in hosting what’s widely considered to be a poor relation to the Olympics. Balance an apparent £100m. profit and alleged economic boost of £870m. with Birmingham City Council being declared bankrupt earlier this year and the UK government having contributed £600m. of taxpayer cash to make it happen.
A change of format for the Games is now being mooted, but what that will mean will take some time to emerge. There is potential excitement for Guernsey to take a direct stake in hosting events from a Youth Commonwealths.
While there is sadness for local elite athletes who might be denied future medals and podiums with the Guernsey flag on their chest, there is a wider parallel with the Island Games, where cost and size is now becoming an issue for smaller islands to be able to host the Games.
It would be a shame if future hosting rights were dominated by the larger islands – as much as we’d welcome a return to Guernsey sooner rather than later – but it’s quite possible that that Island Games too might have to be slimmed down, or reformatted in some way, in the years to come to ensure its survival as an elite event.