Are the Commonwealth Games just too common?

By Edmund Brown

Seven years ago, Delhi was awarded the honour of hosting the Commonwealth Games, a task that seems to have been one hurdle too many for them. With athletes pulling out of this once prestigious event it begs to question the value the games have on the world.

With thousands of athletes making their way to India for the opening ceremony there is more focus on the top athletes that are not turning up. The likes of cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton and gymnasts Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle have all pulled out stating that they cannot compete in a competition so close to the European Championships. So why is it that the Commonwealth Games is playing second fiddle to another event? What makes the European Championships that much better to compete in for athletes than that of representing your country at the Commonwealth Games?

Scottish team leaving for Delhi

The answer is points.

The points picked up in the European Championships go towards securing a place at the Olympics, the pinnacle event in an athletes career, whereas the Commonwealth Games means no more than being the best at your event within the realms of the old British Empire. So is this more likely to be the reason for athletes pulling out rather than the excuses of India not providing suitable facilities?

No one can deny that India has had its problems. With walkways collapsing, rooms not adequate for occupation and snakes being found within the athletes village, competitors have the excuses to hand not to turn up. Whatever the reasons for the withdrawals, the competition for medals will be weaker as a result.

And yet there is so many athletes who do want to represent their country at the highest level. Angus Killean represented Great Britain at the recent ITU duathlon championships held in Edinburgh and he feels the Commonwealth Games is the best event for up and coming athletes.

“The Commonwealth Games should be seen as the best event especially with it coming to Glasgow in 4 years time. It needs to be the top event of an athletes calender. As for these games starting on Sunday, its a shame that some athletes have decided not to go as it takes the competitiveness away from the event. It also takes away the importance of the event although I am sure they have their own reasons for not going.”

And perhaps the event will take place without a hitch or perhaps it will be a long jump right into the sandpit. With pavements still being laid and trees still being planted, with rubble surrounding the stadiums and final fittings being made to accommodation it makes you believe these games are going to fail.

The talents of some of the world class athletes will hopefully shine through and save the day for India and the Commonwealth Games, turning these disaster stricken games into an event to remember.