Further Blow to Commonwealth Games as Alberta Pulls Bid

Posted: Fri, 04 Aug 2023 08:54

Further Blow to Commonwealth Games as Alberta  Pulls Bid

After the shock announcement last week that Victoria was pulling out of hosting the Commonwealth Games we now learn Alberta has cancelled its bid for the 2030 Games. Surely if this is not to be the end of the Games a major rethink is needed.

Tourism and Sport Minister Joseph Schow said the bill was estimated at C$2.7bn (£1.5bn; $2bn) - a burden "too high for the province to bear".

We of course enjoy our sport and where major events can demonstrate tangible benefits they have a role to play. But clearly in difficult financial constraints not 'at any cost'.

The benefits can no longer be sold on 'legacy, tourism and an economic boost'. As these politicians have been brave enough to say what many residents will be thinking hundreds of millions of £ or $ on a 12 day sporting event is not justifiable when compared to other competing spending requirements.

There are differing voices in this debate and this blog from CEO of Sport England Tim Hollingsworth sets out why he believes there is s till a place for the Commonwealth Games.

You're wrong Mr Andrews, the legacy benefits of hosting major sporting events (insidethegames.biz)

Other academics with less skin in the game as a sport federation take a more nuanced view. This is our job at the Sports Think Tank to take the blinkers off and assess sport against the other competing priorities. We have not abandoned support for major events but we are certainly less easily impressed by the claims of the bids and costs involved. Claiming a £35m legacy fund is ok when you have spent £700m on a sports event can be difficult to swallow for many community groups struggling to keep the lights on. I know when I sat down with these groups in Birmingham six months after the Games.

How can you tell if hosting the Olympics or Commonwealth games offers value for money? Here are our expert tips (theconversation.com)

'Existential questions': is this the beginning of the end of the Commonwealth Games? (theconversation.com)

Hosting the Olympics: cash cow or money pit? (theconversation.com)

We will unpack these and other studies in depth as part of our Manifesto project. What should our elite and major events strategy look like by the end of the decade?

I started in 2009 looking forward to a golden decade of sport events. I think the UK have delivered some major successes and there are clear guidelines in place for UK sport and their investment. Would another bid for the Commonwealth Games from the UK make sense? Given the additional complication of the term Commonwealth in a post colonial world where we are learning and exposing more about what that meant, the notion of the Games themselves starts to feel outdated too.

Of course it would be a shame for athletes to lose an event like this. But sometimes sport needs to see itself in the wider context.

Perhaps in a short week we have seen the beginning of the end?

Tags: Commonwealth Games, Sports Policy, UKSport