Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Could your city host the Commonwealth Games?

On Monday Durban announced that it would no longer be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games. They were set to become the first African city to host the event after their successful bid in 2015, but cited financial constraints as their reason for pulling out.

Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham (which lost out to Barcelona in its bid to host the 1992 Olympics) have all expressed an interest in stepping in, but can anyone really afford to host an event of that size these days? The Glasgow Games of 2014 cost an estimated £575 million at the time, with the London Olympics costing around $15 billion. Sochi topped that in 2016, shelling out $51 billion on the Winter Olympics. Rio managed to bring in a much more cut-price $6.4 billion, but still saw the country facing significant social unrest over the amount spent on hosting the Games in 2016 and the FIFA World Cup two years before that.
 Spiraling costs have led a number of cities, including Budapest and Rome, to drop out of the race to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, leaving just Paris and Los Angeles, and 2020 hosts Tokyo have seen their costs already shoot up from their original estimate of $2.5 billion to $15 billion.

Other major sporting tournaments have been split between countries in the past, such as the 2002 football World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine and the 2007 Rugby World Cup which was played in Wales and Scotland as well as main hosts France. The 2020 European Championships will be played in 13 different cities in 13 different countries. Perhaps this is the answer for multi-sport events too, although the tradition is for just one city to host the event. We saw in London 2012 however a number of events hosted away from the capital, such as sailing in Weymouth, football in five cities including Scotland and Wales, and rowing, mountain-biking and canoeing all held near but not in London.

Perhaps joint bids are the way forward, at least in Europe where major cities are not too far from each other. For example, Paris could host the Games with some events in Brussels, Munich and Amsterdam, or how about a Scandinavian Games in Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen and Helsinki?

The Commonwealth Games Federation has said that joint bids will be considered, so we could see a split location event within the UK, but that would still mean UK taxpayers footing the entire bill. A dual-country Commonwealth Games would be difficult, as most member countries are a long way away, but it would certainly help city budgets. So what do you reckon - Liverpool/Manchester or Birmingham/London?