Birmingham CWG 2022: CGF seeking to avoid fixture clashes after Tokyo Olympics 2020 postponement
Commonwealth Games organisers are firm on the dates for Birmingham 2022 and want sports affected by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to work with them and avoid ‘cannibalising opportunities’ for all.
London: Commonwealth Games organisers are firm on the dates for Birmingham 2022 and want sports affected by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to work with them and avoid ‘cannibalising opportunities’ for all.
The English city is due to stage the 22nd edition of the Games from 27 July to 7 August but both athletics and swimming world championships now face a potential clash with the Olympics in 2021.
The International Olympic Committee has said the Tokyo Games, postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, must happen by summer next year.
“Obviously we need to look at where this pandemic goes in general, but we are still focused on a successful Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on the original dates,” Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive David Grevemberg told Reuters on Wednesday.
The Olympic postponement has created a major headache for sports schedulers, with World Athletics president Sebastian Coe saying on Tuesday the 6-15 August 2021 World Championships in Portland, Oregon, could slip to 2022.
Swimming’s World Championships are scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, from 16 July-1 August and could overlap with a rescheduled Olympics.
If shifted to 2022, that could deny British fans the chance to see current Olympic and world breaststroke champion Adam Peaty going for gold at home.
“We are asking that those IFs (international federations) work in close cooperation with ourselves so that we can maximise two great opportunities if it comes to that,” said Grevemberg when asked about athletics and swimming.
“That’s really the responsible thing to do and how we can maintain the sports calendar versus cannibalising opportunities and questioning the value of those opportunities to the respective athletes.
“We would like to believe that athletes get a big bounce from both events and I believe that there are solutions that can be found to work within that space if it does come to it.”
The 2022 Commonwealth Games were originally handed to Durban in South Africa but the city was stripped of hosting rights by the Commonwealth Games Federation in 2017 after the plan hit financial problems.
The quadrennial Games bring together athletes from the 52 members of the Commonwealth, most of which were at one time colonies of Britain.
Grevemberg said he believed the federations concerned intended, at present, to “try to maintain and juggle the calendars to contain this within 2021.”
That could still affect the multi-sport Commonwealth Youth Games, however, which are scheduled for 1-7 August 2021 in Trinidad and Tobago.
“For small states and island states, of which two thirds of the world’s small states and island states are in the Commonwealth, our event in Port of Spain is a big deal,” said Grevemberg.
“It’s a big deal in terms of the economy, a big deal in terms of resources, promotion and attraction to the island states.”
Grevemberg, an American, said sport also needed to learn from the Tokyo situation.
“I think this is a good lesson to us all in terms of how we communicate and there is an enormous opportunity right now to reflect on how sport has been doing its business to date,” he added.
“In terms of environmental concerns and health and safety, in a globalisation and a health context, I really do think we need to think how we adapt and work smarter to address these types of realities.
“This is just going to become more frequent. We need to adapt and become more agile and effective in these types of circumstances.”
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While vaccination programmes are kicking into gear around the globe, they are still focusing on those facing the highest risk, so the question of whether elite athletes should be a priority is, for now, awkward.
Gates, whose foundation has donated $1.75 billion towards efforts to fight Covid-19, told Kyodo that the next few months would be crucial for the postponed 2020 Games.
His words come as recent polls in Japan show 80% of the public believe the Olympics should not happen with virus cases surging — or will not happen.