FIRST, we had the hockey World Cup. Then came the FIFA World Cup.
Now, it’s the Commonwealth Games.
Come September, there’s the Asian Games.
Oh! Wait. Before the Asiad, there’s the start of the over-rated and over-glorified English Premier League (EPL) on Aug 16.
Phew! That’s quite a lot of action for sports fans.
Sadly, being spoilt for choice can be a bad thing these days.
Is that why many are questioning the relevance of the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games, which are taking place in Glasgow.
The detractors may have a point actually – especially in terms of the spiralling cost and, as some believe, the lack of athlete and spectator interest.
But is that really true? Surely, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) can limit the number of events to be contested in future Games so that costs can be kept at a manageable level.
If there is one common problem faced by the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics it is that there is a lack of interest among countries to host the Games – and it’s mostly about the huge cost involved.
Let’s take the Commonwealth Games, for example.
For the 2018 Games, only two countries bid to be hosts. Eventually, Gold Coast (Australia) beat Hambantota (Sri Lanka) to it.
It doesn’t get any better when it comes to the 2022 Games, either. It was reported that only the cities of Durban (South Africa) and Edmonton (Canada) have shown interest, so far.
But are these reasons enough to stop the Commonwealth Games?
Just look at the ongoing Glasgow Games. A total of 6,500 athletes and officials from 71 nations have converged on this Scottish city.
Among them are the biggest names in the sporting world. And none bigger than the fastest man on earth – Jamaica’s Usain Bolt!
Others include Australian athlete Sally Pearson, Malaysian squash queen Nicol David and diving darling Pandelela Rinong, Kenyan 800m Olympic champion David Rudisha, the all-conquering New Zealand rugby Sevens team, three-time world and British Open squash champion Nick Matthew, 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins … and the list goes on.
The quality is there for all to see.
The fact that the Friendly Games, as they are dubbed, are held two years before the next Olympics, also give athletes a chance to see how far ahead – or behind – they are in their preparations for the biggest show on earth.
They can use the Commonwealth Games to fine-tune their preparations or tweak their training programmes – and keep them on their toes while waiting for the Olympics.
The Commonwealth Games also give the smaller nations and the lesser-known players a chance to pit their skills against the giants of the games.
Take the Norfolk Islands shuttlers, for example. Or even our own rugby Sevens players, for that matter.
It basically gives the minnows a more level playing field. You won’t get that at the Olympics.
This is their chance to gain exposure and experience. The national rugby Sevens team took on Wales, Papua New Guinea and Samoa in their group matches in Glasgow. Yes, they lost but surely the lessons learned will hold them in good stead in future Games.
Frankly, you don’t need to look far for answers as to why the Games should stay other than look at the massive support from the Scottish people.
Over the weekend, it was reported that more than 350,000 people attended the Games. Of these, 30,000 defied the rain and wet conditions to cheer on the marathon runners along the 42.2km route on Sunday.
That, to me, says it all!
Sports editor R. Manogaran just wishes that sports officials and politicians don’t try to steal the limelight from our athletes. They are there when they know there’s a medal to be won. Let the athletes bask in glory,