Do the Commonwealth Games have a place in the 21st century?

·3-min read

Once there was the great anticipation - not just of the Commonwealth Games beginning but over who would host them with frenzied bidding contests and the jostling for votes to gain the prestigious status.

Now, you would struggle to find countries wanting the financial burden of the quadrennial extravaganza.

Durban was stripped of hosting the 2022 games when South Africa could no longer fund the expanding budget of extravagance.

There was no rush of backup options. Only England submitted a bid five years ago - through Birmingham - to replace Durban as host to teams from 72 nations and territories.

There are the costs that are far from guaranteed to deliver economic benefits to a region, whatever the optimistic projections.

Even if you have the sports facilities, there is the need to accommodate thousands of athletes with more costly infrastructure.

Rather than fending off contenders for the 2026 games, Commonwealth Games chiefs went on the search for bidders.

Only the Australian state of Victoria was found.

The lack of future interested hosts was reflected in the need for Commonwealth Games chiefs to provide greater flexibility to local organisers in shaping the event by only mandating that athletics and swimming had to be on the programme in future.

Under the guise of modernising to attract younger audiences, the Commonwealth Games Federation plan does allow greater inclusivity.

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Birmingham 2022 has fully integrated para-sports into a major sporting event for the first time.

Cricket returns to the Commonwealth Games for the first time this century with a first-ever women's competition in the Twenty20 format.

There are also games debuts for 3x3 basketball and 3x3 wheelchair basketball.

But just how much of a priority is the Commonwealth Games for the elite stars?

Read more: 2022 Commonwealth Games: What legacy is in store for Birmingham after hosting the games?

The world athletics championships, with greater prestige, shifted focus as it was staged before the Birmingham Games.

A light hamstring sprain has forced Dina Asher-Smith out of England's sprint plans after picking up an injury at the world championships in Oregon where she won bronze in the 200m.

Olympic gymnastics champion Max Whitlock had already decided to take the summer off rather than looking to add to his success from Tokyo last summer.

Tom Daley has also decided to continue his year off since winning a first Olympic diving title in Japan.

Daley will be making an impact in Birmingham still, maybe even a greater one than competing for a fifth Commonwealth gold.

In Thursday's opening ceremony, Daley is set to use his role carrying the Queen's Baton Relay to highlight LGBTQ+ rights.

Such activism has been encouraged by Commonwealth Games officials.

But this is a sporting event that can seem like a relic of the past, clinging to the association with former British colonies.

And with it sticks a reminder of the stains of colonialism and the slave trade in the former British Empire.

A multi-sport event spawned from the Empire Games almost a century ago is searching for relevance two decades into the 21st century.

There's hardly a queue to host them in future.

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