Colonial heritage, focus on diversity to keep the event relevant

Earlier this year, Prince Charles addressed that legacy in a small but significant statement.

“I cannot describe the depth of my personal sadness at the suffering of so many people as I continue to deepen my own understanding of the enduring effects of slavery,” he said. “If we want to create a shared future that benefits all of our citizens, we too must find new ways of acknowledging our past. Quite simply, this is a conversation whose time has come.”

The opening ceremony did not shy away from these themes, although a future king was there to open the event. But the conversation about the meaning and future of the Commonwealth has been going on for years.

It came to a head in Delhi in 2010, when British heritage was called into question on the subcontinent. And that conversation continues throughout the Caribbean and Africa.

When the Games come to the state of Victoria and its provincial centers of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland four years from now, Australia is also likely to move forward in debates on reconciliation and republicanism.

Dame Louise says the Commonwealth needs to have these talks. And sport is the perfect way to address issues that would otherwise go unspoken.

“Everyone in the Commonwealth sport movement believes in the extraordinary power of sport as a force for good,” she said. “A force that brings us together, reconciles our differences and has the inspiring potential to change lives for the better. A force that drives our commitment to humanity, equality and destiny. A force that embodies our passion for and belief in the triumphant, bountiful spirit of humanity.”

The veteran Scottish sports administrator refuses to apologize and rejects the nickname ‘Common Woke Games’ given by the British commentatorium.

She said no nation disputed the body’s new strategic document when it was adopted a few years ago. It didn’t hesitate: “There’s no easy way to say that the Commonwealth has a challenging history tied to colonial roots. It has already begun to shift focus from British Empire hegemony to global peace.”

Dame Louise says the games are “more relevant than ever”.

She points to widespread acceptance of the event in Birmingham – the UK’s most culturally diverse city – as the reason why the Games still have a connection.

“It really is a Commonwealth city,” she said. “If you come to Birmingham I guarantee there’s someone from every single country in the Commonwealth… they’re all here.”

Birmingham fully embraced the event. Local residents were given priority tickets to events and they were snatched away. It broke previous sales records. Volunteers line the streets and greet visitors. The proud industrial city made famous again by television Peaky Blinders, has restored his civic pride.

As the Black Lives Matter movement gained global traction following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in the US city of Minneapolis in May 2020, Games officials made it clear that they would not follow the Olympics trail of punishing athletes who choose to use these games as a protest.

Athletes were told they could raise their fists for racial equality on the podium or wave Pride flags in support of LGBTQI rights during victory rounds. It’s a far cry from the outrage that followed Cathy Freeman’s victory lap with the Aboriginal flag in Canada in 1994.

Dame Louise said the body was comfortable with the awkward conversation and we needed to embrace it.

“You have to open it or it will be hidden under the carpet and nobody will ever talk about it. The more talked about it, the better it gets.”

The organizers have made a conscious decision to ensure that Birmingham will be the first major multisport event in history to feature more medals for women than for men. It’s also the largest parasports program in the history of the Games, with eight sports and events such as swimming and track and field interspersed with events for the able-bodied.

A decentralized approach to hosting the Games, with Birmingham using just one new purpose-built facility and making the most of existing infrastructure within an hour of the city, has sparked more interest from potential hosts.

Since 2002, five of the six games have been hosted by either Great Britain or Australia. After returning to Victoria in 2026, it will likely return to Hamilton for the 100th anniversary. Hamilton’s bid committee hinted this week that it could share an event like shooting with Gibraltar and netball with Jamaica. New Zealand is also considering a bid for 2034 – 44 years after Auckland played its last games.

“People are definitely talking about both [2030 or 2034] due to the fact that we’ve taken a flexible approach to hosting games,” Katie Sadleir, Games Managing Director, said this week.

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“It gives people a lot more leeway to sit down and think about what’s really important for their country in terms of sport, but also economic development, trade, tourism and all those things.”

With Australia poised to win so many gold medals and bring the public to the event, Jeroen Weimar, Executive Secretary of the Victorian Chapter Organizing Committee, says leaving a positive legacy for local communities is the driving factor behind the bid.

He said the target of investments, such as B. several villages for athletes and officials, be it to leave affordable housing for the regions and a modern sports infrastructure to encourage the Victorians to become active and to attract future major events.

“I think that alone will boost development,” he said. “After these games you will see more social and affordable housing with what we are building.”

Weimar said the Victorian Games would effectively have four “mini-games” in each hub, which would propel viewers into the cities to enjoy all they have to offer.

Craig Phillips, chief executive of Commonwealth Games Australia, says the country still shows a great affinity for the games because its “very best” athletes are still taking part.

“There were very few athletes who chose not to compete in these games… so watch the very best. Our swim team was on par with the Olympic team we had last year. So we know our athletes appreciate coming here.”

“Someone always shows up, and the Commonwealth Games often gives an athlete their first international experience.”

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