Time to end the Commonwealth Games?

WE’VE all seen the grim pictures, read the sensational stories and heard the doom-laden interviews - yet the Commonwealth Games will go ahead.

But, as the 19th games get underway in New Delhi tomorrow, one has to wonder if the time has come to consign the event to sporting history.

Perhaps the sports gods were trying to tell us something through the disastrous build-up to the 2010 effort. I’m ready to listen.

To me, everything about it seems to ring a little hollow. It’s rather like throwing a massive party to celebrate a Monday.

It is no longer - if indeed it ever was - a celebration of sport’s finest pitting their skills against each other.


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For a start, America and almost all of Europe are excluded, which greatly diminishes the talent pool and credibility of the contests.

But even the elite who could compete rarely do. Delhi, for example, will not be graced by the likes of Usain Bolt, Sir Chris Hoy and Jessica Ennis, among many other A-list names.

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I can understand the appeal to other athletes of a shot at a major medal in a weakened field, but surely that flies in the face of the sporting ideal, the best against the best and all that?

At the very other end of the spectrum, the Games do, of course, allow competitors from tiny countries - I’m pulling for Tuvalu and Vanuatu this year - to line up against the big boys and fly their flag.

This is absolutely to be lauded - although the Olympics does that bigger and better.

Finally on the competitive front, why have it in the same year as the European Athletic Championships?

It forces our top talents to choose which they want to peak for, and the Europeans will almost always get the nod. It all seems rather silly.

Then there is the rather troublesome concept. The games started in 1930 as the British Empire Games, celebrating all that was great about the empire. King and country old chap, fine and dandy.

Except there is quite a lot about our old Empire - invasion, murder, slavery, that rather embarrassing stuff - which should not be celebrated or used as an excuse for a spot of sport.

The world’s moved on - perhaps it’s time to stop clinging to such an outdated event.

In truth, I realise this is a very simplistic argument. I simply do not have space to do it justice. But I’d argue that there is scope for an argument to be had, if you follow me.

Debate and discussion is one of the many beauties of sport. Over to you - let me know what you think.

- E-mail me at mark.heath@archant.co.uk and follow me on Twitter at mark__heath.

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A COUPLE of weeks ago, I pondered in print if there were any sports left which boast fairness, decency and honesty in the wake of the latest cricket betting scandal.

One reader - simply called ‘A fan of the EADT’ - this week left me in no doubt as to where they stand - and it’s worth sharing with you.

They wrote: ”I think you must separate professional sport where money, contracts and business are often uncomfortable bedfellows with the competitors and their entourage, from amateur sport where ordinary people with working lives have a different approach to all sport.

“The Olympic ideals of wanting to do one’s best, where the taking part is the important thing, can be seen in the sports centres and playing fields of the UK on any day of the week.

“The vast majority of people who play sport are doing it because they enjoy it, because of the sense of wellbeing it brings, the social interaction with other like-minded people and as an important release from their workaday lives.

“This is where honesty, decency and fairness in sport is to be found, amongst the multitude of amateur sports played around this green and pleasant land.”

Their e-mail concluded: “Let’s hear it for the fair-minded, honest and decent majority of sports people in this region.”

No dispute from me. Hear hear.

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