Birmingham 2022 was a success, but innovation and flexibility will be key to the future of the Commonwealth Games | Jamie Gardner

The Commonwealth Games formula of innovation and flexibility can help sustain them into the future, according to a major sporting events consultant.

Birmingham has deservedly drawn praise for its competent and friendly hosting of the event this summer, and demonstrated to those who described it as irrelevance that there is still a public appetite for it.

Keeping that enthusiasm alive and bringing the Games to new members of the Commonwealth in the future will be more difficult, but James Savage, head of sports consulting at Deloitte’s Sport Business Group, is encouraged by what he can see.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) unveiled a new roadmap in October last year which essentially gives future Games hosts unprecedented leeway over the look of the event they are hosting.

Only two sports are compulsory: athletics and swimming. Victoria 2026, in conjunction with the CGF, has already confirmed 16 sports as part of its program with plans to add three or four more later this year.

Savage, who while at Deloitte has worked as a consultant for Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games candidate cities in the past, said: “The significant difference that the Commonwealth Games has compared to other multi-sport events is the selection of the sport rests with the Host Organizing Committee, in parallel with the CGF.

“I think the ability to tailor each edition of the Games, to have events that can target a specific demographic or that will appeal to local people, is its greatest strength.

“Athletics and water sports are the only compulsory sports, so there is a huge portfolio of other potential sports to tap into.”

The Commonwealth Esports Championships were held for the first time on the final weekend of the Games

Even within the framework of this increased freedom of choice, the organizers will also work with the federations to test new formats of sports which everyone hopes will be able to interest a younger audience.

CGF chief executive Katie Sadleir said she wanted her organization to be the “partner of choice” for international federations looking to innovate and spent much of her time during the Games meeting with them to learn more. discuss.

She said on the penultimate day of the Birmingham Games: “The discussions were ‘What’s your next thing? What does it look like? How did you think of deploying it? How can we work with you on this?

“We want to be known as innovative, scalable and relevant Games and we want to do that in partnership with the federations and they’ve come back with some really exciting stuff.”

An early example of this success was Birmingham’s introduction of 3×3 basketball for wheelchair and non-disabled athletes, which proved hugely popular in a downtown location of the former Auxiliary Market. Smithfield fruits and vegetables.

Birmingham also marked cricket’s first appearance at a multi-sport event, as the International Cricket Council (ICC) continues to push for the sport to be included in the program for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Savage said: “Using those sports that have more forward, shorter, sharper, punchier and bolder approaches can definitely be a USP for the Commonwealth Games as a movement.

“Bringing the sport to new audiences, increasing overlap with esports and increased use of technology are key for events such as these multi-sport games to scale and appeal to the younger generation.”

Savage does not foresee esports being part of the full Games program for Victoria, but expects it to remain aligned, as was the case in Birmingham with the Commonwealth Esports Championship taking place at the International Congress Center in the city on the last weekend of the Games.

He thinks there could also be a role for more virtual sport at the Games in the future.

“You could do sports like rowing, cycling, running, you could have competitors in various places around the world competing virtually,” he added.

“I see that’s not necessarily in the Games themselves, but I can see there’s growth in that area, from the international federations as a whole.”

There is also flexibility in how you host, as well as what you host.

By accident rather than design, Birmingham used three Athletes’ Villages instead of one, after plans for a venue at Perry Barr were scrapped due to a decision to delay the construction project.

CGF chief executive Katie Sadleir (centre) wants her organization to be the “partner of choice” for international federations looking to innovate

The multi-village model will be rolled out again in Victoria, which will be a true statewide edition of the Games with four regional hubs in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland, each with its own athletes’ village.

Staging the Games in a state roughly the same size as the British Isles shows the direction of shifting from city bids to state, single country and even multi-country bids.

African nations have already raised the possibility with Sadleir at a meeting of sports ministers on the eve of the Birmingham Games, and Savage believes that in the long term it is something the CGF will consider.

“It has been proven over the past decade that physical distances between sites are not an issue,” he said.

“So provided the political will and appetite is there and the fair sharing of infrastructure and development costs, I think it’s certainly possible that we can move in that multi-country direction for future hosts.”

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