Commonwealth Games set for downsizing after Birmingham 2022, multiple sports to be dropped – report

Commonwealth Games (CWG) set for downsizing after Birmingham 2022, multiple sports to be dropped to cut down on cost; eSports to be added

Commonwealth Games: Since its launch in 1930, the Commonwealth Games (CWG) used to be a platform for British colonies to showcase their might in sports. Over the years with countries gaining independence and thriving on their own, the ties to the British Commonwealth has significantly diminished. The next in the line of fire is the once-coveted Commonwealth Games which will see dramatic changes in sporting disciplines after Birmingham 2022.

According to an insidethegames report, the Commonwealth Games will undergo modernisation to attract younger audience and broadcasters but more importantly hosts. So far, there is no taker for the 2026 edition of the CWG despite multiple countries showing interest. However, the interests are likely to drop significantly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its financial fallout.

Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), told insidethegames that the CWG needs an overhaul as it is not sustainable under the current format.

Also Raed: Commonwealth Games 2022: CGF confident CWG 2022 will happen despite “uncertainty” expressed by Birmingham city council leader

“We can’t stay as we are sustainable. We have to move on, we have to modernise. In my opinion, Birmingham will be the last one of this size. In the future it will be more in keeping with what the country it’s going to wants,” Dame Louise said.

The plans include reducing the size of the games to make it cost-effective for the host city while also change the sports to attract a younger audience, especially in Asian countries. The review of the sports programme is currently underway and if the majority of 71 nations agree, there will be a major overhaul with eSports certain to be added. The CWG has already seen a change with shooting and archery dropped from the main event.

If archery made a comeback in 2010 with India hosting the event, it was dropped in 2014 and 2018. Shooting has also been dropped from the main event of Birmingham 2022. However, India will host archery and shooting events instead of host city Birmingham with the medals to be added only a week after the games’ conclusion.

Also Read: CWG 2022: India, Australia and New Zealand eight teams to qualify for Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Commonwealth Games set for major overhaul from 2026:

  • Multiple sports to be dropped either permanently or temporarily to make it easier for the host city from 2026 edition to make CWG “sustainable”
  • To make it cost-effective, the CWG will be smaller
  • eSports to be added to attract young audience in Asian nations
  • CWG committee to encourage Asian hosts
  • Emphasis on cutting cost wherever possible to make it cost-effective

One of the major problems as per Dame Louise is the presence of too many athletes. In the 2018 Commonwealth Games, there were 275 medals given out in 20 disciplines with athletics being the largest with 58 events, followed by swimming with 50 events. In Birmingham, it has been downsized to 270 medal events in 19 sports with 4,500 participants expected to feature in them.

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“It has to be reviewed without a doubt. It’s not working for us because it’s very difficult to control. We’re going through a sticky patch at the moment, yes, because of all the vagaries of COVID-19 and cost-wise, but in the future, I see the Commonwealth Games going from strength to strength in a completely different way to the way it’s been done in the past,” Dame Louise added.

Commonwealth Games: Waning commercial interest

The other factor that plays against Commonwealth Games in waning interest from broadcasters and sponsors. With Asian Games taking place the same year as CWG, broadcasters and sponsors tend to lean on the continental competition which is more attractive with top countries like China, South Korea and Japan taking part.

Sheffield Hallam University professor Simon Shibli, who is a sports specialist and accountant with years of research in the economic impact of major sporting events, said the Commonwealth Games “must be fixed”.

Also Read: IOA chief slams Commonwealth Games as waste of time

“In the sporting air space, it’s very, very difficult for an event to gain attention when it’s quirky, not fixed in the sporting calendar and not the pinnacle of achievement. Audiences are not great and commercial rights are not great. There are too few hosts,” he told insidethegames.

“The fact that it is the friendly Games where it’s very Corinthian, the taking part that matters, has led to mismatches and joke performances. You need to make it an elite competition based on qualification,” he added.

Even Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra said in 2019 that the IOA along with the sports ministry would review if India should continue taking part in the Commonwealth Games. He dubbed the CWG sub-par tournament with no standard.

Dame Louise said the change is inevitable to keep the CWG going. “We have to keep reviewing our sports, we have to stay relevant to where we are at the time. It’s no good anymore to sit back and say ‘We’ve always done it this way,” she said.