The Decline of the Commonwealth Games and Its Future: An Examination of Recent Challenges and Potential Solutions

The Commonwealth Games, an international sporting event held every four years, is currently facing a crisis as it struggles to find hosts for its upcoming editions in 2026 and 2030. This article explores the factors contributing to the Games’ difficulties and discusses the potential impact on its future.

The trouble began last month when the Australian state of Victoria abruptly withdrew as hosts for the 2026 event, citing rising costs. This decision left the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) scrambling to find a replacement for the upcoming Games. In addition to Victoria’s withdrawal, the government of Alberta in Canada, the only confirmed potential bidder for the 2030 event, also halted its attempt to bring the Games to the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. Hamilton, Ontario, which hosted the inaugural Games in 1930, had previously suspended its effort for a centenary event due to a lack of government support.

The Commonwealth Games, which include a variety of sports, have historically been held in countries that were once part of the British Empire, with the UK and Australia dominating as host nations in recent years. However, other countries, such as Canada, have shown little interest in hosting the event before. The increasing costs associated with hosting the Games, estimated to be over £1 billion, coupled with the lack of perceived benefits and limited global recognition, have deterred many potential hosts.

The viability and relevance of the Commonwealth Games in the modern world are now being questioned. Some argue that the Games are becoming too expensive to host without generating significant long-term benefits. However, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson rejected the notion that Victoria’s withdrawal signaled the decline of the Commonwealth, emphasizing the continued commitment of member nations.

Despite the challenges, there are still potential solutions to ensure the future of the Commonwealth Games. One option is for Gold Coast, the host of the 2018 Games in Australia, to step in and stage the 2026 event after Victoria’s withdrawal. Another possibility is for London or Birmingham in the UK to submit a bid to host the Games, considering their existing infrastructure. Additionally, the CGF has expressed its willingness to consider hosting the event in new regions and exploring the concept of multi-country Games.

South Africa is also seen as a potential future host, with the president of the country’s Sports and Olympic Committee expressing confidence in the country’s ability to deliver a world-class Commonwealth Games. Other countries in North Africa are also being considered as potential hosts.

The Commonwealth Games remain an important event for many sports, such as netball, and have served as a stepping stone for athletes aiming for the Olympics. However, there is a growing trend of sports organizing their own world championships, overshadowing the significance of the Commonwealth Games. Some athletes, including track stars like Andre de Grasse, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Shericka Jackson, have chosen to skip the Games in favor of other major competitions.

The question arises whether the Commonwealth Games can survive these challenges and remain a relevant and successful sporting event. Lord Coe, a former middle-distance world record holder and influential figure in athletics, believes that the Games have a future and can innovate to adapt to changing circumstances. However, experts like Dr. Tom Bason from Coventry University suggest that the Games may need a fundamental rethinking of its purpose and format, potentially transforming into more of a festival-style event rather than a mini-Olympics.

In conclusion, the Commonwealth Games are currently facing significant challenges in finding hosts for future editions. The rising costs, limited benefits, and lack of interest from potential hosts have put the future of the Games in doubt. However, there are still potential solutions, such as Gold Coast stepping in as a replacement host or London and Birmingham submitting bids. The Games may also need to undergo significant changes to ensure their long-term viability and relevance in the modern world. With careful consideration and innovative thinking, the Commonwealth Games can potentially overcome these challenges and continue to thrive as a meaningful international sporting event.