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REIMAGINE

REIMAGINE

The Birmingham 2022 Games: Where from, What for, Where to ?

The Birmingham 2022 Games: Where from, What for, Where to ?

Pre-print. Paper presented at the research seminar on “Cultural Encounters in English-Speaking Societies”, 1 March 2022, Institute of Education (INSPE), University of Reunion Island. Abstract: Regarded by some as the second most important multi-sport competition after the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games are a periodical event organized every four years. Also known as the “Friendly Games”, they are only open to athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The 2022 Commonwealth Games will be held in Birmingham, England. As tradition has it since the 6th British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff in 1958, the Queen’s Baton Relay was launched prior to the competition. Carrying out a message from the Head of the Commonwealth, currently Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen’s Baton flew out from Birmingham airport in October 2021. It thus began a journey around the world during which it is expected to cover more than 140 000 kilometers (90 000 miles) and to visit 72 Commonwealth nations and territories. The final batonbearer will then return the Baton to the Queen during the Opening Ceremony on 28 July. The aim of this paper is to provide historical beacons to help students understand what is at stake with the 2022 Commonwealth Games. We will be looking at history and the origins of the Commonwealth Games, starting with the first Empire Games held in Hamilton in 1930. The paper will then focus on the purpose of the Games, and sports diplomacy within the Commonwealth. Contemporary concerns and controversies will eventually be mentioned to provide food for thought. Guilène Révauger is an Associate Professor in Anglophone Studies at the Institute of Education (INSPE), University of Reunion Island. She is a member of the research center DIRE, (Displacement, Identity, Revision, Expression). Her fields of interest include anglophone civilization, British foreign policy and Commonwealth studies, as well as didactics and digital technologies for language education. Keywords: Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth Games, sports diplomacy, soft power, cultural encounter 1. Introduction “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in away that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” These words were uttered by Nelson Mandela (2000) and they have a particular resonance here. This paper will focus on the Commonwealth Games, an extra-regional competition more famous than their French equivalent “Les Jeux de La Francophonie”, and regarded by some as the second most important multi-sport competition after the Olympic Games. The aim of the paper is to provide historical beacons to help students understand what is at stake ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. We will humbly ask three straightforward questions: Where from? What for? And where to? We will thus begin with a historical analysis before turning to the purpose of the Games and discussing the extent to which they can be considered as a soft power resource of sports diplomacy. We will then highlight certain points of interest overlooking the contemporary Games. 2. Where From ? a. The Commonwealth of Nations Only athletes holding a Commonwealth passport can partake in the Games. Let us begin with a portrayal of the Commonwealth of Nations in its contemporary form: The Commonwealth is home to 2.5 billion people, it includes 54 countries in Africa, Asia, North and South America, Europe, and the Pacific. These countries may be independent territories, or dependent territories governed by the UK, Australia or New Zealand. Britain has 14 “dependent territories” which are now called “overseas territories”1 (“BOTs” or “UKOTs”). There are seven Australian External Territories, yet only five are inhabited: Christmas Island, the Cocos(Keeling) Islands (600 people), the Coral Sea Islands, and Norfolk Island. The Ashmore and Cartier Islands, as well as the Heard and McDonald Islands are uninhabited. New Zealand has one dependent territory (Tokelau, with a population of approximately 1500 people), and two associated states which are self-governing states in free association with New Zealand (the Cook Islands - 17 500 people, and Niue – 1600 inhabitants). The Commonwealth of Nations, or simply put “The Commonwealth”, is a political and free association. It is a network of states rather than a union since no government exercises power over the other countries. It is not ruled by any formal constitution. Its members are very different, they include major industrialized nationsas well as smaller developing countries. Not only do they share ties of friendship, educational or cultural links, but they enjoy practical cooperation, targeting health and economic development. Preferential trade relations ensure important overseas investments for Britain. The Commonwealth is an organization run by formal institutions: the Commonwealth Secretariat (a central institution dedicated to inter- governmental relations), the Commonwealth Foundation (dealing with extra-governmental matters), and other organizations such as the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL). Since 2013, the Commonwealth Charter has set out the values of TheCommonwealth. It ensures its formal commitment to equality, democracy, and human rights values. Great Britain remains a prominent member of the Commonwealth, however the question today is whether it is still calling the tune or not. The Commonwealth is described by Encyclopaedia Britannica as “an evolutionary outgrowth of the BritishEmpire”. The Commonwealth can indeed be perceived as a legacy of the Empire, it began by coexisting withthe Empire, and it has recently been joined by countries which have never been British colonies (Mozambique – a former Portuguese colony; Rwanda – a former Belgian colony, and a member of La Francophonie; and Gabon, a former French colony and a member of La Francophonie, is expected to be the 55th Commonwealth member in 2022). Let us look at three turning points in Commonwealth history: the Balfour Declaration of 1926, the 1931 Statute of Westminster, and the London Declaration of 1949. The Commonwealth began as a “white man’s club”, an association of the White Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The first mention of the Commonwealth was made in 1926 in the Balfour Declaration at the Imperial Conference. The Declaration outlined the Dominion status: the Dominions would thus be equal in status, they would enjoy autonomy in internal and external affairs, theywould be united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and they would be freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Another key document is the Statute of Westminster, an Act of Parliament passed in 1931 and ratified by the Dominions. It renounced British rights over self-governing dominions, it confirmed parliamentary sovereignty for the dominions and thus increased the sovereignty of the Dominions. It also paved the way for practical and economic cooperation. After the promulgation of the Statute however, allegiance to the British monarch was the sine qua non for Commonwealth membership. Although the last British colony of significant size, Hong Kong, was handed over to China on 1 July 1997, the British Empire began its transformation after WW2, and more precisely from 1947 onwards, with the Independence of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, following Nehru and Gandhi’s peaceful national campaigns in India. The third fundamental beacon we will now look at is the 1949 London Declaration. It was issued at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers conference. Upon independence, India adopted a republican constitution; despite this transition to republicanism, it remained a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Declaration stated that Prime Ministers agreed upon continued membership for India, and that the government of India accepted to recognize the King (King George VI) as head of the Commonwealth (as opposed to head of state), and as the symbol of the free association of the independent member nations. At the time, the Declaration regarded India as an exception; it however laid the foundations for the New Commonwealth: newly independent territories choosing republicanism would not be denied Commonwealth membership. From then on, the “New Commonwealth” was joined by the newly independent territories: all former African colonies gaining independence in the 60s joined the Commonwealth. Among our neighbors, we may think about Kenya (1963); Mauritius, in 1968 (Mauritius became a republic in 1992); and the Seychelles in 1976 (also a republic). Mozambique joined the Commonwealth in 1995, despite no former colonial orconstitutional links with the UK (it had gained independence from Portugal); Rwanda also joined theCommonwealth in 2009, although never part of the British Empire. b. 72 teams expected 72 nations and more than 5000 athletes are nowadays expected to participate in the Commonwealth Games. Competitors are eligible to represent a Commonwealth country when they are « in possession of a currentvalid passport of the Commonwealth Country which enters them; or are a subject who can demonstrate ‘Belonger Status’ in Great Britain or relevant British OverseasTerritory of the Commonwealth Country which enters them. » (Constitutional Documents of the CGF, 2020). Athletes competing for a common passport country (Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia) at the Olympic  Games  or  other  major sporting events are allowed « to choose to represent their home Affiliated CGA (e.g., Turks and Caicos) at the Commonwealth Games ». (Constitutional Documents of the CGF.)Thus, the official British Olympic team actually breaks apart during the Commonwealth Games. A symbolfor Britishness, “Team GB” gathers athletes from the four home nations (Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England), Crown dependencies (Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey), and some British Overseas Territories (the“BOTs”,   such   as   Anguilla, Turks   and   Caicos Islands, Montserrat, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar…). Three overseas territories, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands represent themselves at both events. Our Indian Ocean Commonwealth neighbors participate in the Commonwealth Games, and they have regularly achieved medal success. South Africa has won an overall total of 389 medals; Kenya 220; Tanzania 21. Mozambique has a total of 6 medals, including two golds in 1998 and 2002 for legendary athletics athlete Maria Mutola. The Seychelles have taken home 6 medals in boxing, athletics, and weightlifting. As for our sister island, Mauritius, since 1998, it has bought home 12 medals. It first took part in the CG in1958, in Cardiff, but won its first medals in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, with a gold, a silver and two bronze medals in boxing. In Melbourne (2006) they again won two medals in boxing. There was a bronze medal in Judo in 2002 (Manchester); three silvers in boxing and on the running track in 2006 (Melbourne); 2010(Delhi) yielded two bronze medals in boxing; a silver in boxing and a bronze in judo were won in Glasgow in 2014. c. From the British Empire Games to the Commonwealth Games Let us now adopt a historical perspective. The Games are a periodical event held every 4 years. They are a multisport competition. Although the origin of the Games is associated with the 1911 Festival of Empire, the first Games were conveyed in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1930; 400 athletes from 11 countries were gathered. Theevent was then referred to as “The British Empire Games” and it retained this name until 1950 (there were no Games during the War, in 1942 and 1946). Between 1954 and 1966 the Games were called “The BritishEmpire and Commonwealth Games”, between 1970 and 1974 they were known as “The BritishCommonwealth Games”, before eventually becoming “The Commonwealth Games”. The British Empire Games Federation was established in 1932 following the success of the first Games in Hamilton. From then on, the federation would be in charge of the organization of the games, it would control the program and select host cities. The name has now been changed to the “Commonwealth Games Federation” (CGF) or “Commonwealth Sport”. The Federation also organizes the Commonwealth YouthGames and it is the governing body of the “Commonwealth Games Associations”. The different partners involved in the Games are the Commonwealth Games Federation, the Commonwealth Games Associations,the international sports federations, and an organizing committee set up for each Games. In 2013,Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharm, during a speech to the CGF General Assembly, explained: “Our mandate in relation to Sport for Development and Peace aligns with the CGF vision which is to ‘develop sport for the benefit of the people, the nations and the territories of the Commonwealth, and thereby strengthen the Commonwealth’… Are the games about strengthening the Commonwealth then? 3. What for ? a. May the best win What are the Games for? Well, unsurprisingly, some may see the Games first and foremost as a sport competition for the sake of sport and performance. The schedule of the 2022 Games includes 286 sessions across 19 different sports (some sports are split in different disciplines: aquatics thus comprises diving, swimming and para swimming; cycling includes mountain bike, road race, time trial, track and para track. Among these sports, some are not Olympic Games sports. This is the case for lawn bowling2, netball, cricket, squash… The rules are however planned to change in 2026. Currently, Byelaw 14 entitled “Sports in the Programme of the Commonwealth Games” and published in the 2020 constitutional documents of theCGF, lists the compulsory core sports3 to be found within the program. This list includes, to quote but a few, swimming, athletics, cycling, boxing, or lawn bowls… Optional sports, such as archery, cricket, and disciplines like clay target, full bore, pistol or small-bore shooting may also be selected from a list4. There is a limit of four team sports on the program (with some exceptions concerning cricket and basketball para). However, a specific clause states that “The CGF Executive Board from time-to-time may recommend to the CGF General Assembly the recognition ofInternational Federations governing and developing a sport practised in the Commonwealth which are notcompulsory or optional sports (disciplines) on the Commonwealth Games sports programme. Suchrecognition will be granted with the designation of ‘CGF Recognised Sport’.” At times, tennis (Delhi, 2010), or fencing (1950-70) were introduced. “Demonstration sports” or “exhibition games” may also be hosted: Lacrosse, in 1978, in Canada; Australian Rules Football, in 1982 in Brisbane; the martial arts Silat, Wushu and Silambam in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, 1998… b. The political significance of sport But the Games also have another significance. Despite the efforts put forward by the IOC, the political significance of sport hardly needs to be proven. During a webinar entitled “Can the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games help UK’s post-Brexit sport diplomacy get out of the starting blocks?” and organizedby The Foreign Policy Center, Grey Thomson (2021, May) declared: “I do find it really strange that we talkabout there being no politics in sport. There’s so much politics in sport. (…) The medal table in every game is very political”. Famous examples abound shedding light on the links between sport, domestic or foreign policy. Sport can be considered as a soft power resource, a form of track II diplomacy, backchanneldiplomacy, aka non-governmental diplomacy. In other words, sport is firmly linked to politics. For researcherssuch as Brian Stoddart, sport should not be considered as a peripheral institution in the evolution of the Commonwealth, but as a central one, since it is “at some level alwayspolitical” (Stoddard, as cited in Dawson, 2006, p. 6). Cases of boycotts and the setting up of some competitions illustrate the political significance of sport.Among these, the Games of New Emerging Forces (GANEFO) organized by Indonesia in 1963 and Cambodia in 1966 were open to emerging nations; they were highly political, the GANEFO Constitution acknowledged the links between politics and sport; it emerged as a boycott of the International OlympicCommittee after the suspension of Indonesia (Indonesia had hosted the 1962 Asian Games and had refused entry cards for Taiwan and Israel). Ping Pong diplomacy is another example to illustrate our claim. Preceding Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, American and Chinese table tennis players met during the 1971 World Table Tennis Championships held in Japan; the event remains a famous symbol since it marked the beginning of diplomatic overture between theUS and the People’s Republic of China. Finally, to provide a rather contemporary example of the links between sport and domestic affairs, I wouldlike to recall the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The event happened before the Windrush Scandal which began in 2018. The 2012 show was directed by Danny Boyle, entitled“Pandemonium”, it pictured social change from the Industrial Revolution to the 60s: suffragettes, soldiers ofthe two world wars, NHS nurses, and the arrival of Empire Windrush, the troopship which bought 802 migrants to London in 1948 and symbolizes the immigration of hundreds of thousands of African-Caribbean people after WW2, encouraged by the British government to respond to shortages in the labour market. Theshow was criticized on the right-hand side of the British political sphere; Tory MP Aidan Burley wrote a Tweeter comment calling it “leftie, multicultural crap”, which led David Cameron to hit at his own Torybackbencher calling his view “idiotic” (Rawlinson). c. The Commonwealth and South Africa’s apartheid policies: The 1978 EdmondonGames and the 1986 boycott of the Edinburgh Games Unsurprisingly considering what we have just seen, the Commonwealth Games have in turn been highly political. We will now look at two examples involving one of our neighbors. The border between boycotts, withdrawals or absence of attendance is sometimes flimsy. Boycotts and threats of boycotts have been recurrent in Commonwealth Games history. Although not the sole reason, central on stage were SouthAfrica’s apartheid policies. Sport then appeared as an instrument to help break down apartheid. The 1978 Commonwealth Games in Montreal were planned two years after the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal; these Games had been subject to corruption, budget overruns, and doping assumptions. They had been boycotted by 29 countries. Despite calls for sporting embargo, the New Zealand rugby team had toured South Africa earlier in the year 1976; yet the International Olympic Committee refused to ban New Zealand from the Olympic Games. Consequently, when it met in Mauritius in 1976, the Organization for African Unity, the parent body of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, called for the boycott of the Olympic Games (Macintosh, Greenhorn and Black). In the aftermath of 1976, the Canadians walked a tightrope to avoid a similar boycott in the 1978 Edmondon Commonwealth Games. As Macintosh, Greenhorn and Black explained, “Such a boycott would not only put the Games in financial jeopardy (the federal government hadcommitted some $12 million to the capital costs of these Games, and goods and services to be at a similar level), but would be damaging to the future of the Commonwealth Games as an institution and to the harmony of the Commonwealth as a whole” (Macintosh, Greenhorn and Black, 1992, p. 26). Diplomaticefforts conducted by External Affairs, the creation of a specific Task Force for the Commonwealth Games, negotiations, the signing of a Declaration in Gleneagles and a policy denying visas to South Africanathletes finally led to “a diplomatic triumph for Canada and was to help to set the stage for future Canadian leadership in the Commonwealth in the fight against apartheid in South Africa” (Macintosh, Greenhorn and Black, 1992, p. 51). Nigeria was eventually the only country to boycott the 1978 Games and Canada had managed to avoid economic sanctions. As Macintosh, Greenhorn and Black concluded, contrary to Great Britain, Australia or New Zealand, Canada did not have sporting ties with South Africa’s important sports, rugby or cricket; eventually“sport was a convenient vehicle with which Canada could show its resolve against apartheid without doingeither harm to the economy or running into any significant opposition from special interest groups”(Macintosh, Greenhorn and Black, 1992, p. 54). The following boycott of the Edinburgh Games, in 1986, was again meant to condemn the apartheid regime.The state of emergency was imposed in South Africa in 1985, which implied draconian measures and the useof extreme force by the regime. In October 1985, Commonwealth leaders signed the Nassau Accord. Theagreement was described by The Times as an “agreement (…) reached after a long weekend of negotiationsduring which Mrs Thatcher found herself totally isolated over sanctions” (1985). The measures were called by Thatcher “tiny little measures”, and her words upon final agreement were thus reported: “it was worthpaying a price to get an agreement, it was worth paying a price to keep the Commonwealth together” (1985).However, the accords remained fruitless and when Thatcher refused to sever sporting contacts and impose stricter sanctions to South Africa, many Commonwealth nations heeded the call for a boycott. Eventually only 27 teams partook in the Games and 32 teams boycotted them. The 1986 Games ended up being a very-white affair and a financial black- hole. Kobierecki considered that “the country that was the target of the protest was also the host of the event, so the boycott struck the proper target, not an innocent victim, which has sometimes occurred during other sports boycotts” (Kobierecki, 2017, p. 40). One should however remember that although the period was that of pre-devolution Scotland, the Games were not played inEngland, and the city of Edinburgh suffered great financial losses. d. Sport, Empire, Muscular Christianity Having looked at the political significance of sport, let us now ask another question: What usage was made of sport by the Empire? In an opening chapter on “Gender and Imperial Sport”, McDevitt mentions “Organized games and the doctrines of Muscular Christianity, which held that athletics in general and team games in particular were uniquely able to foster the manliness which an Empire needed in order to prosper” (McDevitt, 2004, p. 1). Since the 19th century, sport has indeed been seen as a training tool; unsurprisingly team sports and athletics were included in the most prestigious public schools which had been attended by Commonwealth Office diplomats. Team games, and in particular rugby and cricket, were endowed with the promotion of core values such as loyalty and respect. They thus took part in the training of men for the Empire. As Perkin wrote it: Organized games were at the heart of the public-service ideal. In their combination of individual prowess and group co-operation for a common purpose they fostered the elite virtues of self-confidence, self-reliance, leadership, team spirit, and loyalty to comrades - all inculcated with brutal, arbitrary and corporal punishment, mostly administered by senior boys, which fostered toughness of character, indifference to hardship, and insensitivity to pain and emotional distress, especially in others. These were the ideal qualities for governing a class-ridden nation in which social control was exercised by a small and mainly amateur ruling class over a mass of underfed and ill-educated workers, still more for a multi-racial empire in which a tiny white minority maintained its ascendancy over a multitude of 'the lesser breeds without the law'. (Perkin, 1989, p. 147). The Victorian model of civilization included a component of “Muscular Christianity” which flourished in the UK and the US. Muscular Christianity began in London in the 19th century, it gave rise to the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and later spread to other countries. Theodore Roosevelt and Lance Armstrong are among its famous proponents in the US. The notion took root in British literature. In 1859 Thomas Hughes published Tom Brown at Oxford in a serial form. Chapter 11, entitled “Muscular Christians",thus defined the notion: Our hero on his first appearance in public some years since, was without his own consent at once patted on the back by the good-natured critics, and enrolled for better or worse in the brotherhood of muscular Christians, who at that time were beginning to be recognised as anactual and lusty portion of general British life. (…) Whereas, so far as I know, the least ofthe muscular Christians has hold of the old chivalrous and Christian belief, that a man'sbody is given him to be trained and brought into subjection, and then used for the protection of the weak, the advancement of all righteous causes, and the subduing of theearth which God has given to the children of men. (Hughes, 1859). Victorian Muscular Christianity linked Christian morality to physical fitness and manliness. Physical trainingwas thus portrayed as a necessity to perform service, help others, and develop strength of character. Sport wasthus seen as a vehicle for core values deemed indispensable to the running of the Empire. e. Sport & linkage Has sport played a part in helping Britain maintain its influence over former colonies? As Kobierecki wrote, this is difficult to prove. However, it seems obvious that sport played a part and generated connections between Britain and its former colonies. Researchers have agreed on the complexity of the connections and the absence of a straight forward link (Dawson, Perkin). Sport did help the colonizers dominate, but it also helped the colonized resist and emancipate from Britain. For Perkin, sport “helped the Empire to decolonize on a friendlier basis than any other in the world's history, and so contributed to the transformation of theBritish Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations.” (Perkin, 1989, p. 145). Beating the English at a sport game was also highly symbolical. The All Blacks won 31 out of 32 matches in 1905 in the British Isles, and theSpringboks (South Africa’s national rugby team) won most matches during their 1906-1907 tour. McDevitt notes that “the rugby defeats struck a warning chime among English commentators and were seen to be aportent of doom for the future of the British Empire” (McDevitt, 2004, p. 1). 4. Where to? a. Where to for the Commonwealth? Let us now turn to our last part. Although the questions “where to” or “what next” are put forward, you will not be provided with answers here. The purpose of this paper is to offer beacons and pinpoint elements requiring further attention when the time comes. The significance of the future Commonwealth Games is tightly linked to that of the Commonwealth, the shape of which is changing. Hence, the first element you should scrutinize is the Commonwealth. Some nations are still waiting for full decolonization: we mentioned Hong Kong being handed over to Chinaon 1 July 1997, yet the decolonization of Mauritius remains incomplete, with the Chagos islands remainingunder British colonial administration despite a UN resolution. Inversely, others request admission within the Commonwealth: among the countries which have showed interest are Gabon (expected to join in 2022), or our neighbor island Madagascar. The membership criteria to join the Commonwealth have evolved; they now include the 1991 Harare Declaration, which affirmed principles and pledged the Commonwealth countries to protect and promote the fundamental political valuesof the Commonwealth, including “democracy, democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government; fundamental human rights, including equal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, colour,creed or political belief; equality for women, so that they may exercise their full and equal rights” (1991). The saying/doing gap has at times been wide, but the declaration has at least attempted to promote values. Another change was made with the 1997 Edinburgh Declaration which was revised in 2007. The declaration initially stated that states needed to have “either constitutional or administrative ties to at least one current member state of the Commonwealth of Nations” to be admitted; it was later amended to allow for the admission of Rwanda; admission is now discussed on a case-by-case basis, and the Commonwealth has now increasingly little to do with the British empire. b. What for and where to for the Games? Naturally, the second element under scrutiny are the Games. Just like the connections between sport and Empire, the Games are “complex and multifaceted events” (Dawson, 2006, p. 7). Future Games will probably remain significant for various reasons including the fact that mega events can produce positive emotions, a sense of excitement, and have the power to galvanize public opinion. The message conveyed by the foundation emphasizes friendship, cooperation, and even the family link of the nations. The aim is probably to minimize the nationalist component which is part and parcel of international competitions. Such a message also helps sustain ties, especially when these ties tend to weaken. The Games foster rapprochement, hence the appellation “Friendly Games”. The website lexico.com, managed byDictionary.com and Oxford University Press, traces the origins of this informal name for the Commonwealth Games to the 1960s and identifies the earliest use in The Times. The Games were however deemed “friendly” before: in 1930, Port-Glasgow Express mentioned the Empire gathering and announced competition “in all kinds of games in friendly rivalry” (1930). By 1986, the name was settled - a Toronto Star article began with the following words: “They are called The Friendly Games, but 200 private security guards will protect athletes at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 24 to Aug. 2.” The Games now seem to take a new direction, and this is partly due to the recent strategic plans adopted. A longterm strategy including guiding principles and strategic priorities has been put forward with the Transformation 2022 (2015-2022) and Transformation 2022 Refresh (2019- 2022) which endow sport with a mission to promote social change. Of course, another question is: “Where to, after Brexit?” Interest in the Commonwealth hasn’t declined; indeed “Global Britain” was an argument used by Brexiteers to emphasize post Brexit opportunities. Our aim here is not to politicize the Games before they are politicized. It will thus be interesting to see whether public opinion and the press focus on Brexit or not during the Games. Also, and this may be a point to scrutinize, Fitzpatrick draws our attention to the potential dissonance between the diversity emphasized in the Birmingham Brand and the Tories’ national anti-immigration policies (Fitzpatrick, 2021). c. Brum 2022 The 2022 games are the 22nd Commonwealth Games. They had originally been awarded to Durban (South Africa). Financial constraints however led Durban to retire in 2017; the bid turned out to be an easy win, Birmingham being the sole candidate. Birmingham had planned to submit a bid for the following games; proceeding for an earlier bid possibly appeared as a post-Brexit opportunity. “Brum, Brummagem, the City of a Thousand Trades, the Workshop of the World, Second City”, Birmingham’s various appellations are are miniscence of the city’s manufacturing and industrial past. Games are regularly seen as catalysts for change, participating in the rejuvenation of cities, and in particular deprived cities. Another former industrial city, Glasgow had benefitted from the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and East London was also metamorphosed with the 2012 Olympic Games. Birmingham, the second UK city after London, is also expected to benefit fromthe Games; infrastructure is to be developed, walking routes are to be upgraded... Probably due to a shorter notice than usual, most venues will take place in revamped buildings rather than new ones, although a new aquatics center is being built. At the moment, the Alexander Stadium Redevelopment is on track; pressure will now increase progressively as the date of the event approaches. The spectre of delays and infrastructure issues threatens the organizers; and even more since it had been part of the controversies over the 2010 so-called “Shame Games” in Delhi. The Commonwealth Games have been subject to criticism, at times called “a metaphor for empire”, or a “reminder of Britain’s bloody past” (Cardwell). Kehinde Andrews, Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, said that “the event is seen as a nuisance [by students and colleagues]. There’s a genuine apathy otherwise. I don’t know anyone who is positive” (Cardwell). In such a context, the way the organizers pitch and present the event is of importance, hence a mission advertised on the website and the publication of a legacy plan resting on five pillars: “A mission to bring people together; to improve health and wellbeing; to help the region to grow and succeed; to be a catalyst for change; to put us on the global stage” (Birmingham 2022 Legacy Plan). Among the highest expectations are economic benefits; they are three-fold and include benefits ahead of the event, during and after the Games. The documents published (Birmingham 2022 Legacy Plan) imply a public investment of £778 million, among which the city council and regional partners in Birmingham are set to contribute £184 million. However, reporter for Insidethegames.biz Liam Morgan wrote last month that Birmingham was “facing a shortfall of £25 million and its Council could be forced to use contingency funds to plug the gap” (2022). A £72 million investment is expected to revamp the Alexander Stadium, and £73 million are devoted to Sandwell aquaticsCenter. Government investment for business and tourism reaches £23,9 million. More than 1 million tourists are expected in the city. The Brand also advertises the creation of 35 000 games-time jobs, volunteering and skills opportunities. Subsequent economic benefits are expected after attracting prospective investors or companies. Alex de Ruyter, professor at Birmingham City Universityand Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies, called Birmingham “Global Brum” and described the city as a regional hub of services firms in law, accountancy, architecture, finance, with buoyant universities, and a 14% city economy still relying on manufacturing. He considers that the presence of major companies withCommonwealth connections (HSBC, with Far East connections; Jaguar Land Rover, owned by Indian firm Tata Motors) as well as, in a lesser extent, Commonwealth diaspora communities, “showcase the appeal of the Midlands for other emergent investors from India, East Asia, and elsewhere in the Commonwealth.” Therefore, he concludes, “the 2022 Commonwealth Games are everything to play for…” (De Ruyter). The Legacy Plan published provides an evaluation framework split in three phases: phase 1 provides the baseline for further evaluation; phase 2 assesses the immediate impact (beginning March 2022); phase 3 will capture the long-term impact of the Games (beginning mid-2023). With Transformation andTransformation 2022, the Games have been subject to a post- imperial and more progressive rebranding.Equality, diversity, and inclusion are among the key values advertised. The medal event program shows there are slightly more medal events for women (136) than men (134), which is a first; para sports are fully integrated within the program, and they are more numerous than ever before. In 2020, in the wake of Black Lives Matter, Commonwealth Games Federation President, Dame Louise Martin, and CGF chief executive, David Grevemberg, produced an open letter to sport #BlackLivesMatter, which ended with the following words: “It is our passionate belief that athlete advocacy and activism humanises, rather than politicises, sport. We must use our voices and continually seek to reduce inequalitiesand build peaceful communities” (Grevemberg & Martin). Such a stance is rather different from the one taken by the IOC. Although protests will be subject to guidelines, athletes will be allowed to raise a fist on the podium and to wave Aboriginal flags and pride flags during victory laps. This recalls Cathy Freeman’slap with the Australian flag underneath the indigenous flag after winning the 400 m Gold in 1994, an act forwhich she had been reprimanded. 5. Conclusion This paper now draws to a close, we have tried here to offer a few beacons to help grasp the Commonwealth Games, which are due to begin in a few months now. Conjuring sports diplomacy and reminding the audience of the catalytic effect of the games, we have tried to show that the Commonwealth Games were definitely not « just for the sport of it ». Today, as we offer this analysis, there are no major hazards looming ahead despite increasing tension as the ultimate date is getting closer. Work on venues is on schedule, and despite concerns on certain bus lines and security, the greatest threat of all seems to remain Covid-19. The event was expected to be a post-Brexit and post-Covid one, yet health and security measures or debates on vaccination are very likely to remain central on stage. These are the debates you should probably look for, although it is coherent to reflect on the Commonwealth and the future of the post-Brexit Games. It will also be worth looking at the values and plans marketed, and confront them to what really happens. Creative and cultural events are planned and here again the Brand advertises diversity and a common heritage; it is probably too early to scrutinize these events, but they announce promising reflection on cultural encounter. Finally, whether you are a sports afficionado or not,I recommend watching and analyzing with a sharp eye the opening ceremony of the 22nd Games on 28 July. 1 Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia; Turks and Caicos Islands. 2 le boulingrin 3 Aquatics (Swimming), Aquatics (Swimming Para), Athletics, Athletics (Para), Badminton, Cycling (Road), Boxing, Gymnastics (Artistic), Hockey (Men and Women), Judo, Lawn Bowls, Lawn Bowls (Para), Netball (Women), Rugby Sevens (Men & Women), Squash, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Weightlifting, Powerlifting (Para), and Wrestling (Freestyle). 4 Archery (Recurve), Aquatics (Diving), Basketball 3x3 (Men and Women), Basketball Wheelchair Para 3x3 (Men and Women), Cricket (Men and Women), Cycling (Mountain Bike), Cycling (Track), Cycling (Track Para), Gymnastics (Rhythmic), Shooting (Clay Target),Shooting (Full Bore), Shooting (Pistol), Shooting (Small Bore), Table Tennis (Para), Triathlon (Para), Volleyball (Beach). 6. Bibliography Ashford, N. (1985, October 21). South Africa: Summit accord on apartheid hailed as key step [outcomeof         Nassau CHOGM]. The Times.https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/111652 Birmingham 2022 Legacy Plan. (2021, March). https://images.birmingham2022.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Birmingham-2022-Legacy-Plan-a.pdf Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. (2021, July 27). Commonwealth. Encyclopedia Britannica.https://www.britannica.com/topic/Commonwealth-association-of-states Cardwell, M. (2020, July 7). Birmingham's 'problematic' 2022 Commonwealth Games is a reminder        of Britain's 'bloody  past'. Birmingham  Live.https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birminghams-problematic- 2022-commonwealth-games-18554009 Coleman, N., Grey-Thompson, T., Katwala, S., Matheson, C., & Fitzpatrick, D. (2021, May). Can the 2022Birmingham Commonwealth Games help UK’s post-Brexit sport diplomacy get out of the starting blocks?. The Foreign Policy Center. Debate conducted online. https://fpc.org.uk/events/can-the-2022-birmingham-commonwealth-games-help- uks-post-brexit-sport-diplomacy-get-out-of-the-starting-blocks/ Commonwealth Games Federation. (2020). Constitutional Documents of the Commonwealth Games           Federation. https://thecgf.com/sites/default/files/2020-12/Constitutional%20Documents%20of%20the%20Commonwealth%20Games%20Federation%202020.pdf Commonwealth Heads of Government. (1991, October 20). Harare Commonwealth Declaration in Harare, Zimbabwe. https://production-new-commonwealth-files.s3.eu-west2.amazonaws.com/migrated/inline/Harare%20Commonwealth%20Declaration%20 1991.pdf Dawson, M. (2006). Acting global, thinking local: ‘Liquid imperialism’ and the multiple meanings of the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 23:1, 3-27, DOI: 10.1080/09523360500386419 De Ruyter, A. (n.d). Reflections on the 2022 Commonwealth Games: bring on a ‘Global Brum’. Center for theNew Midlands. Retrieved 2022, 24 February from https://www.thenewmidlands.org.uk/global-brum/ Empire Games. Gathering of British Athletes. (1930, July 16). Port-Glasgow Express. Grevemberg, D., & Martin, L. (n.d). Media Release, An open letter to sport #BlackLivesMatter. Retrieved 2022,24 February from https://thecgf.com/news/open-letter-sport- blacklivesmatter Hughes, T. (1859). Tom Brown at Oxford. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/26851/26851- h/26851-h.htm#link2HCH0012 Jolly, R. (2013). Commonwealth Games: Friendly rivalry. In Research Papers Series, 2013-14. Parliament     of Australia. http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/library/prspub/2825633/upload_binary/2825633.pdf;fileType=application %2Fpdf. Kobierecki, M. (2017). The Commonwealth Games as an Example of Bringing States Closer Through Sport. Physical Culture and Sport Studies and Research, 36 (LXXIII), 36-43. DOI:10.1515/pcssr-2017-0004
An Open Letter to the Commonwealth Games Organisation Committee 2022

An Open Letter to the Commonwealth Games Organisation Committee 2022

Below follows an open letter from Business, Local Community and City leaders regarding to the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee 2022 regarding the issues of perceived institutionalised racism and representational parity. TO IAN REID / JOHN CRABTREE, We, the undersigned, are writing to express our disappointment at the insubstantial responses from the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee 2022 towards the issues of perceived institutionalised racism and representational parity. We are also offering our support and assistance in dealing with these issues, as they affect businesses, communities and athletes alike. The 2022 Games are taking place in our name, and we all act as its ambassadors, both in person and online. Following the statement released by BIRMINGHAM 2022 CEO Ian Reid, and co-signed by John Crabtree (Chair) dated 10 July 2020, it is clear that those driving the Games need urgent support to engage with communities and businesses; to make the Games truly inclusive and set a benchmark for future events. The city-region’s diverse communities and businesses have contributed to the wealth, creativity and growth of the region for half a century. We feel this is the real legacy for the children of the Commonwealth; the legacy which won the Games for the region (being young, digital and diverse) is now being sidelined. The Games team must assess their involvement and complicity with systemic issues and privilege, and commit to transparency and action, with speed and a sense of civic mission. Words count for little if they are not followed by actions, to which named officers are held accountable. We call on the accountable party to commit to a speedy practical process of change and intervention, beginning by publicly answering these questions: 1. What are your smart targets and KPIs around race, gender, disability and social inclusion representation within your workforce? 2. Where can the public see your targets audit your progress against collected data, and more importantly; identify who is accountable? 3. Considering the momentum of the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement, and reflection on public policy, opinion and justice here in the UK, which board members will stand down voluntarily, to make way for new voices from our Black & minority communities of Birmingham & beyond? 4. What percentage of jobs, contracts and procurement will go to our region’s Black, Asian and socially deprived communities, and how will you achieve this? 5. How will you go beyond “widely advertising” roles to representationally hiring staff, and what impact will this have on regional skills and employment? 6. How much money is going to be ring-fenced for any additional onboarding: e.g training, recruitment, and who will be responsible and accountable? 7. Internal review is not best practice. Will a credible, external and independent equalities review with a racial equality lens take place this year? 8. Will you confirm this review will be given authority to inform and reform recruitment, training and policymaking; prioritising inclusive leadership programmes to ensure this is never repeated in our city-region? 9. What actions will be taken to win back public confidence, and how can the city-region’s diverse communities be involved now and in the future? 10. How will a representational number of people with Commonwealth heritage from Birmingham be involved in this process, at a senior level? Confirmed and signed up to the open letter: Ifraz Ahmed CEO – Asian Today Newspaper Rt Hon Jacqui Smith. Mark Hart – Aston Business School/Enterprise Research Centre Joe Morgan – Regional Secretary GMB Ewan Mackey Deputy Leader & The whole Conservative Group – Birmingham City Council Kash Latiffs CEO – Latiffs & Sons Marc Reeves – Midlands Editor in chief Reach plc Lincoln Moses MBE – Holdford Sports Hub Lisa Tricket chair – WMCA Overview & Scrutiny Bobby Friction – BBC Radio Presenter Mike Best – Colmore Row Business Improvement District David Broom – General Secretary of National education Union Birmingham Tracey Barrington – Chair Active arts Erdington Maverine Cole – Journalist, Broadcaster & academic Reverend David Butterworth – Interfaith Workplace Chaplain at the NEC Group Mukhtar Dar – Kalaboration Arts Councilor John Cotton – Labour Cabinet BCC Tyson Leon – Leon Group security Aftab Rahman Director – Legacy West Midlands Denise Maxwell – Photojournalist Tru Powell CEO – Aston Performing Arts Karen Creavin CEO – The Active Well Being Society Professor Monder Ram – Director, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship Amrick Singh – Nishkam Centre Noel Dunne CEO – Creative alliance Joel Blake – President of the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce Daina Chrouch – Special Adviser, BAME Business All Party Parliamentary Group, Federation of Small Business Lead Councilor Sharon Thompson – Labour Cabinet member BCC Adam Yosef – Editor in chief, I am Birmingham journalist Ravi Subramanian – Unison Regional Secretary Derrin Kent – Chair of Birmingham & Solihull Training Providers Network Andy Bailey CEO – Enterprise Data Systems Mashkura Begum – Executive Director Saathi House Monica Coke – Community Advocate Rosie Ginday CEO – Miss Macaroon Garry Stewart Director – Recognize Black History Anita Bhalla OBE – Combined Authority Leadership Commission Digbeth Estate Mohamed Ali – Artist and social activist Joy Warmington CEO – BIrmingham Race Action Partnerships Ammo Talwar MBE CEO – Punch records Saidul Haque CEO – Citizens UK Birmingham Councilor Paulette Hamilton – Labour Cabinet member BCC Birgit Kehrer CEO – Change kitchen Professor Asif Ahmed – Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health, Aston University Indi Doel CEO – Desi Blitz media Councilor John O’Shea – Labour Cabinet member BCC Shale Ahmed – CEO Aspire and Succeed CIC Antonio Aakeel – Award winning Actor Councilor Waseem Zaffar – Labour Cabinet member BCC Sam Porter – The Active Well Being Society Board Bob Ghosh – K4 Architects Director Debbie Kermode – CEO of the Mac Tara Tomes – Founder, East Village PR Agency
Athletes will not be Punished for Activism at Commonwealth Games 2022

Athletes will not be Punished for Activism at Commonwealth Games 2022

Competitors can take the knee at Birmingham Games ‘We need solutions that don’t build walls but bridges’ Cathy Freeman celebrates with the Indigenous Australians flag after winning the 400m gold at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, in 1994. Photograph: Tony Duffy/Getty Images Commonwealth Games authorities have promised not to ban or punish any athlete at Birmingham 2022 who takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. That decision, which has been revealed by the Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive, David Grevemberg, is in direct contrast to the International Olympic Committee, which has warned athletes they will be thrown out if they protest on the field of play or the podium during the Tokyo Games. Grevemberg said it is especially vital athletes are given a platform in such turbulent times. “People say are we opening Pandora’s box but no, we are respecting people’s rights to voice opinions,” he said. “The Black Lives movement is challenging all institutions to really look introspectively at what we can do to be more fair, more free, have better equality and have better systems of justice that look after people. Sport is no different. “We are comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation and we need to embrace it. We maybe have more responsibility because of the shared history of the Commonwealth so we need to find solutions that don’t build walls but rather build bridges.” Grevemberg said the Commonwealth Games Federation had been working on many of the problems raised by Black Lives Matter since 2015 as part of its Transformation 2022 project. He also pointed out that athlete activism had long been part of the Games. “You go back to Cathy Freeman,” he said. “The reason her moment was so powerful at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 was because of what she did at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994 when she wrapped herself in the Aboriginal flag after the 200 and 400 metres. That had a profound impact.” Grevemberg also confirmed the start of the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been pushed back 24 hours to 28 July to help athletes recover from the rearranged world championships in Eugene that month. The athletics programme will also be held later in the competition and run over five days and not seven in an effort to persuade Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson to try to win gold medals in Birmingham as well as Eugene and at the European championships in Munich during that summer. “It’s a challenge and athletes like a challenge,” Grevemberg said. “You could almost create it as a grand slam in terms of hitting all three golds in particular events in three major championships. I think it’s a wonderful challenge – to do the unprecedented.”
Birmingham 2022 Faces Tough Questions in Wake of Black Lives Matter Movement

Birmingham 2022 Faces Tough Questions in Wake of Black Lives Matter Movement

The impact of the Black Lives Matter movement continues to rumble through sport. It has forced clubs, leagues and competitions to have reckonings with their identity. Such discussions have already prompted change, with the Washington-based National Football League team recently retiring their controversial "Redskins" name and logo.    The Commonwealth Games has also come under scrutiny. Previously called the British Empire Games, the event has undeniable links with colonialism, and subsequently, slavery. Conversations in Britain surrounding the country’s history have been amplified by the Black Lives Matter movement's exposure, with criticism of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham growing as a result. Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, Kehinde Andrews, is among those to voice his concerns. "It should be a time to revisit this, because the Commonwealth is all about Britain trying to maintain some kind of symbolic link back to its imperial past," he said, as reported by Birmingham Live. "The empire is still there in some ways. The Commonwealth is so problematic. The city has embraced it because it is money - which is quite a good metaphor because empire is one of the things that built Birmingham. We shouldn’t be surprised the city embraced it." The publication also spoke with Aftab Rahman, founding director of charity Legacy WM, who highlighted the Commonwealth Games’ failure to properly address is history. "It harks back to a bloody past," he said. "It’s ravaged with hate and blood and death and all of these things. It’s never addressed properly. "In history books, the British Empire is presented as a golden age. It was golden for the British people but not for those who were ruled." The mascot at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games was a nod towards Australia's Yugambeh people ©Getty Images The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has responded to such comments, with chief executive David Grevemberg confirming a truth and reconciliation plan would be in place for Birmingham 2022. The initiative was used at Gold Coast 2018 and aimed to recognise, respect and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures. The event’s mascot, Borobi, was also a nod to the Yugambeh people, an indigenous group from the Gold Coast. Previous Commonwealth Games have also tried to acknowledge the event's colonial past in some way. For the 2014 edition, Glasgow City Council worked with the Empire Café to put on a programme of events focusing on the city’s link with the slave trade. Indeed, Grevemberg revealed the CGF’s past was something that was regularly discussed.  "This is a conversation we have been having on a regular basis," he said. "When you start to go back through the history, past industry and products, you start to go into a much deeper and darker past. Obviously the link with legacy of slavery and the remnants of colonialism. With recent discussions on racial inequality, this is a discussion that needs to be had, and one that we are welcoming of, supportive of and is necessary." The CGF has indeed been more understanding on the issue of podium protests. In stark contrast to other organisations such as the International Olympic Committee, the CGF leadership said it passionately believes that athlete advocacy and activism "humanises rather than politicises" sport. CGF President Dame Louise Martin and Grevemberg even went as far as to call on people involved in sport to encourage participants, ranging from athletes and coaches through to sponsors and administrators, to stand up for what they believe in.  The appointment of Nick Timothy as a non-executive director of the Birmingham 2022 Board has caused criticism ©Getty Images The Commonwealth Games may have a murky past, but athletes at least have the freedom to be able to draw attention to that if they so wish. As a result, Birmingham 2022 can definitely be a sporting event which produces important conversations surrounding the link between the Commonwealth Games and colonialism, whether that is through the truth and reconciliation plan or protests. Nonetheless, there have already been some quite significant failings. Another report by Birmingham Live found that just one of the 20 members of Birmingham 2022's Board of Directors and executive management group is not white. The executive management team consists of five white men and two white women, while its Board features seven white men, five white women and one black man. This is particularly unacceptable when considering Birmingham is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Britain. One non-executive director of the Board, Nick Timothy, even has links with the Windrush scandal - which has seen people wrongly detained and deported from Britain - due to his previous role as aide to former Prime Minister Theresa May. His involvement in the organisation of the major sporting event has drawn criticism.  In response, Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid insisted the organisation is "committed to ensuring our workforce reflects the city and region in which we are operating", while the CGF has also backed the Organising Committee to take measures to improve diversity.   This oversight has shown that there still is much to do to improve diversity and anti-discrimination in the Commonwealth Games Movement, even though it is considered more advanced in tackling these issues than other sporting organisations. As with other areas of sport, the Black Lives Matter movement and resultant discussions have increased scrutiny on the Commonwealth Games.   
A Commonwealth Games for the Future

A Commonwealth Games for the Future

It was US satirist John Oliver who once mocked the Commonwealth Games as an “off Broadway” Olympic Games. A legacy of our colonial past, the Commonwealth has been criticised not only for its sporting meets – in a world in which China is a growing point of friction, its economic and diplomatic relevancy have also been called into question. Why then would Victoria consider hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games, an event that was struggling to find a home after Birmingham agreed to move its Games forward to this year after Durban, in South Africa, was stripped of the 2022 Games when it hit financial problems? Australian relay runners celebrate their bronze medal at the 2006 Games in Melbourne.CREDIT:PAT SCALA The reforms the Commonwealth Games Federation introduced last year go some way to answering that question. Similar to the Olympics movement, which has made changes to streamline and cut the enormous costs involved in bidding and hosting the event, the Commonwealth Games Federation realised that its one host city model requiring large infrastructure spending was no longer feasible. In October last year, the federation agreed to a more flexible and scaled-down model. This meant multiple cities, regions or even nations could co-host the Games, which would involve a maximum of about 15 sports, with only athletics and swimming being mandatory. There would also be a set number of athletes agreed to by the federation and the hosts. If Victoria does take on the 2026 Games it will be the first time this new model is put into practice. By spreading out the venues and the athletes village to a range of regional cities and towns it will be a test of how successful such a dispersed event can be. When you look back at the history of the Games, it becomes obvious why it needs to work. Since its inception in 1930, it has only been held three times outside of Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Before it lost the Games, Durban would have been the first African city to host the Games. With so few countries willing or able to put their hands up, it was never going to be a sustainable model. The federation’s chief executive, Katie Sadleir, asks for the future, “why wouldn’t we be able to think of an African continent Commonwealth Games?” in which the sports were spread around a number of countries, reducing the impact on each. When Wellington was considering a bid for the 2026 Games it was looking at an “Oceanic Games”, in which events could have been hosted in countries such as Fiji. That said, previous one-city Commonwealth Games have proven financially viable in Australia. According to Associate Professor Tien Pham, of Griffith University, the Gold Coast Games in 2018 boosted the Queensland economy by more than $2.4 billion between 2013 and 2022, after the $1.5 billion cost of staging the Games was deducted. And a PwC study, carried out on behalf of the federation, which looked at four of the five Games held since 2000 (Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006, Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018) found that each dollar spent by governments on operating costs, games venues and athletes’ villages generated $2 for the host city or state economies, with an average of more than 18,000 jobs generated by each event. For Victoria’s regional areas, it’s sure to be a boom in infrastructure spending, jobs and tourism. But would it have the same appeal to spectators and a TV audience if the MCG or the world-class aquatic facilities at the Melbourne Sports Centres only play a secondary role? For its future viability, it’s a gamble that the Commonwealth Games Federation probably has to make. But whether a successful Melbourne Games means the event is secure for the long term is very much an open question.
Are you willing to be made nothing ? Is Commonwealth reform possible ?

Commonwealth perspectives on International Relations: International Affairs

Are you willing to be made nothing ? Is Commonwealth reform possible ?

Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled, made nothing?Are you willing to be made nothing?dipped into oblivion? If not, you will never really change.1 The above passage is from ‘Phoenix’, one of the last poems of D. H. Lawrence. Like the firebird, international organizations seem never, or rarely, to die, as Susan Strange has provocatively argued.2 The British empire is long gone, but out of its ashes grew the Commonwealth, a somewhat awkward, idiosyncratic network. It is no surprise, then, that most analyses of the Commonwealth consist of existential musings: for whom and for what purpose does it exist? Its telos is elusive, even for the most ardent followers, such as James Mayall: ‘I think of the modern Commonwealth as a happy accident. If it did not exist it would neither be necessary nor perhaps possible to invent it.’3 Hedley Bull’s comment in the middle of the last century is telling: ‘Too close an inspection might serve only to explode the “myth” of the Commonwealth and accelerate its continuous progress of disintegration’.4 If a recent poll is to be believed, most British people have no idea about the purpose or policies of the Commonwealth: in a survey of 100 senior United Kingdom decision-makers from media, politics and the civil service, only 25 per cent of respondents correctly identified the Commonwealth when its activities were described.5 For the Commonwealth, unknown and increasingly unloved, every misstep is the beginning of a new episode of existential quandary. The year 2013 was a deep low in its recent history. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo was overshadowed by controversies about the bad human rights record of the host country, Sri Lanka, which resulted in the absence of many important heads of state and a concluding communiqué which could not expunge the diplomatic fiasco. If not the first, it was certainly the most controversial CHOGM, with the host accused of human rights violations by the highest UN human rights authorities. Now that the circus has left Colombo, it is time to pick up the broken pieces. The year 2014 may be a more joyful one for the Commonwealth family, in particular given the sportive cheers (and tears) that the Glasgow Commonwealth Games will bring, but the aftertaste of the last CHOGM is very bitter. This year of 2014, then, should serve as a period of contemplation leading up to the important year that follows: for 2015 represents a symbolic turning point for the Commonwealth Secretariat, marking the half-century since its creation in 1965. Since the end of the Cold War and the return to membership of South Africa in late 1995, the organization has been seeking a new vocation. Many reform proposals have been made. These have not led to much change, and may increasingly cause ‘reform fatigue’, a phenomenon encountered in the history of many classic international organizations. More importantly, they may lead to a further marginalization of the organization in the present century as the number of the world’s states, and of the issues that preoccupy them, continues to grow. Resources are scarce, especially those available for dealing with international affairs, human development and global public goods since the decline of the Washington Consensus. Furthermore, there has been a proliferation of agencies advancing novel forms of ‘global governance’ and rule-making involving increasing roles for the private sector, civil society, transnational advocacy groups, partnerships and networks.6 So should we even bother about the Commonwealth? The Commonwealth has much to contribute to the development of this new, more diffuse and highly complex picture of global governance. With its postwar membership consistently weighted towards developing countries, it is well situated to capture energy from the seemingly unstoppable process of global rebalancing. For example, with India and South Africa in its ranks, it includes two of the five BRICS as well as a quarter of the G20 (Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the UK). In the current decade, Africa is growing as fast as Asia; most Commonwealth members are situated in these two ‘Southern’ continents, so can the Commonwealth usefully contribute to the post-2015 world of development?7 In our view, current debates around Commonwealth reform miss the point. As the world evolves in response to financial crises and economic rebalancing, no single international organization can be hegemonic: they all need to network with a range of inter and non-governmental global and local organizations in hybrid coalitions. Many proposals for reform have been introduced during the past 20 years but most of them have evaporated. In this article we try to understand why this has happened, and to offer some ideas on how to overcome this desultory legacy. The Commonwealth’s strongest claim is to privilege its third, informal, non-state dimension, identified below as the centrepiece of Commonwealth Plus networks. The silent road of reform The latest round of reform proposals started at the Port of Spain CHOGM in 2009, which established an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) under the chairmanship of former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Between July 2010 and July 2011 the EPG held five meetings and received around 300 written submissions from various Commonwealth organizations, Commonwealth Secretariat staff, Commonwealth commentators and the attentive public. Its reform proposals were contained in A Commonwealth of the people: time for urgent reform.8 This EPG report consisted of no fewer than 106 recommendations. Among the most heatedly discussed were the proposals for the adoption of a Commonwealth Charter and the establishment of a Commonwealth Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights. Although keenly anticipated, the Charter adopted at the beginning of 2013 only reaffirms existing non-binding declarations. The Commonwealth Commissioner is not being introduced, as this was a bridge too far for many member governments, especially those in the global South. Although thoughtful and timely, the report of the EPG made the same mistake as most other reform proposals within such a diverse multilateral setting. Despite consulting a wide variety of stakeholders and interested partners, the reform proposals do not consider concrete measures to sharpen the organization’s profile, downsize, or refocus the scope and size of its activities. Reform should be more than a diplomatic act, making sure that no single input is neglected and that none of the interested parties feels alienated from the process; it should make the organization function better. Most of the time, the main message that emerges is that the organization should do more, but within the same staff and budgetary constraints. One could call this the ‘paradox of reform’. A lot of diplomacy, less management. A Commonwealth of the people does not make many strategic choices on which issues to cover. One of the major problems with today’s intergovernmental Commonwealth is that it tackles almost all aspects of international affairs—almost like a mini-UN—but without the necessary mandate, toolbox, human resources or financial capacity. In short, the Commonwealth—or Commonwealths, given the existence of both interstate and non-state forms—needs to network with compatible mixed actor coalitions, sometimes as leader, often as follower, and we increasingly observe it to be a follower. For many the Commonwealth is a champion of the global South, especially small island developing states (SIDS).9 Other recurring themes are the promotion of human rights and democracy, and the management of economic globalization.10 A glance at the website of the Commonwealth Secretariat shows activities in at least a dozen fields from democracy promotion to engagement with youth. Does this extensive range of activities reflect the motives for members’ participation? Does it make an impact? Such questions deserve further investigation and should inform discourses around global governance. But in order to conduct any such investigation we need first to dissect our object of study. A strange animal Unlike almost all other international organizations, the Commonwealth consists of a wide variety of different organs and bodies, commonly referred to collectively as the ‘Commonwealth family’. Since 1971 the Commonwealth itself has stuck with the definition contained in the Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles and reaffirmed in the newly adopted Charter: ‘a voluntary association of independent states and equal sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of our peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace, and influencing international society to the benefit of all through the pursuit of common principles and values’. The voluntary character of the organization is lauded by many. Without this, the Commonwealth might not have survived for so long after the demise of the British empire. For political pragmatists it is also rather comfortable to be part of an organization that causes few waves and has minimal authority. How many members would have signed a binding Charter? As the spokesperson of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, recently stated: ‘I am not aware that the Commonwealth of Nations is making laws for Nigeria. Nigeria, as a Federal Republic, is an independent country. Our association with the Commonwealth of Nations is voluntary. The fact the Commonwealth of Nations makes any law or signs any charter does not necessarily mean that we must accept such.’11 Even so, occasionally countries are suspended, although this entails few risks or transaction costs. This is reflected in Pakistan’s ‘membership flip flop’. The country left the organization in 1972, rejoined in 1989, was suspended in 1999—a ban which was lifted in 2004—suspended again in 2007, and readmitted again in 2008. In our quest to understand the Commonwealth, we found a useful framework in the innovative work of the United Nations Intellectual History Project (UNIHP).12 Traditionally, many analysts of the UN use Inis Claude’s classic distinction between the UN as an intergovernmental arena of member states (a club of states) and as a secretariat (a bureaucracy led by the UN secretary general).13 The UNIHP proposed to move beyond this by adding a ‘third UN’ to the analytical framework. This ‘additional’ UN consists of NGOs, academics, consultants, experts, independent commissions and other groups of organized individuals in civil society that routinely engage with the first and second UNs. The third UN’s role includes advocacy, research, policy analysis and idea-mongering, and is a reflection of the growing complexity of global issues and resultant global governance structures; it embodies the conception of ‘multiple multilateralisms’.14 Adopting such a scheme to explain the Commonwealth enables us to see more clearly some of its mysteries and limitations. The ‘first Commonwealth’ (the ‘official Commonwealth’), then, is an intergovernmental organization of 53 states covering one-third of the world’s population.15 Its members are located in a wide range of regions: Africa (18), Asia (8), the Americas (3), the Caribbean (10), Europe (3) and the South Pacific (11). Reflecting its origin as a successor to the former British empire, almost all of its members are former colonies. The modern Commonwealth took shape through the 1949 London Declaration which facilitated India’s membership as a republic. All the member states, except for Mozambique and Rwanda, have experienced direct or indirect British rule. Originally a group of just eight countries, nowadays the Commonwealth includes a quarter of UN member states and a wide range of polities, differing widely in size, development, geography, hard or soft power, culture, religion and other aspects. Every two years this group of states meets for discussion at the CHOGM, around which non-state forums also gather. The next such meeting is scheduled to take place in Malta in 2015 (it was originally planned for Mauritius, but moved owing to that country’s boycott of the Colombo meeting: it is traditional that the head of state of the new CHOGM host country should be present at the preceding meeting). Members are represented in several bodies of the organization, the most important of which is the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), established in 1995 to deal with serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values. The Group is convened by the secretary general and is composed of the foreign ministers of nine Commonwealth member countries, supplemented as appropriate by one or two additional ministerial representatives from the region concerned. Member states are diplomatically represented in London through the system of high commissioners.16 Over time, their leisurely reflections at 10 Downing Street and then Marlborough House in London, including weekend retreats at the government’s country houses of Chequers and Dorneywood, became more compressed and less elegant.17 This first Commonwealth group of 53 states has delegated some authority to three bureaucracies that jointly form the ‘second Commonwealth’ (the ‘Common- wealth bureaucracy’): the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth of Learning. Kamalesh Sharma of India, the fifth secretary general, heads the Commonwealth Secretariat. The secretary general can represent the organization at international forums and provide good offices. Traditionally, commentators on international affairs have paid little attention to international bureaucracies. This comparative disregard has lessened over recent years, as scholars have become more interested in autonomy, power, dysfunction and change in these bureaucracies.18 In contrast to their counterparts in the EU or the UN, the Commonwealth civil servants are highly dependent on what the first Commonwealth decides. Central to ComSec here is the Executive Committee, which meets every three months, makes policy recommendations, and oversees budgets and audit functions. It consists of 16 member state representatives: eight from the largest funders and eight from other countries selected on a regional non-permanent basis. Compared to similar bodies in many other international organizations, its size and budget are very small. With under 300 staff, it is comparable in size to the UK Office of Rail Regulation, Education Scotland or the UN canteen in New York.19 A large proportion of its staff deals primarily with support activities such as human resources, communications, public affairs and IT. Other divisions of the Commonwealth Secretariat do not really correspond with the programmes and activities of the organization; indeed, there appears to be an enormous mismatch—as for instance with human rights, an issue that receives a lot of media exposure and support from powerful member states, but is followed up by only a limited number of Commonwealth staff.20 Some did not consider the small size of the secretariat a problem. Sonny Ramphal, the second Secretary General, stated: ‘Overall, the Commonwealth Secretariat [is] a small organisation, and ought to remain so ... the Secretariat should be seen as developing not in quantitative but in qualitative terms; as functioning in the area of development and promotion of ideas, constituting something of a Commonwealth think tank in a whole variety of areas; and trying to place on the ground ... machinery and agencies of practical cooperation.’21 Of the Commonwealth’s £48 million budget in 2009/10, only 15 million went to the Commonwealth Secretariat for the day-to-day running of the organization. The remainder was allocated to two specialized funds: £30 to the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC), and £3 million to the Commonwealth Youth Program (CYP).22 The amount of money allocated to the Commonwealth Secretariat is equal to the yearly salaries of a few of the top football players of a Premier League club. Australia, Britain, Canada (the so-called ABC countries) and New Zealand fund most of the budget. An international organization depending so heavily on a few member states for its finances is vulnerable to sudden shocks. The withdrawal of funds from UNESCO by the United States had devastating effects on its day-to- day activities. Recently, Canada has announced it will review the level of its contributions to the Commonwealth. The other two agencies are even smaller, with a combined staff of fewer than 60 people promoting the soft power dimension of the Commonwealth through cosmopolitan programmes of education, development, literature and language, reinforcing the idea that the Commonwealth is a platform to promote English language, culture and education in the world. The Commonwealth Foundation is a modest office based at Marlborough House in London. It can be seen as a bridge builder with civil society (the ‘third Commonwealth’) through its Civil Society Advisory Committee. The Commonwealth of Learning is a Vancouver-based body promoting open and distance learning. One of the main projects funded by the Commonwealth of Learning is the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), covering 32 small Commonwealth states. The limited number of countries funding the Commonwealth clearly indicates its vulnerability. Tensions between the first and second Commonwealth affect the exercise of its core functions. A perfect example is provided by the position of the chairperson-in-office, a fairly new position introduced in 1999. It is held by the organizing head of state immediately after the CHOGM until the next meeting two years later. So, although the tension surrounding the Colombo CHOGM may have eased somewhat, it is far from gone, and has implications far beyond the public relations disaster of the meeting itself. For not only has the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa taken over from Australian PM Tony Abbott as chairperson, he has also become an ex officio member of the CMAG, a move that will silence the human rights monitoring group for the coming two years. The chairperson is an ill-defined position with the potential to become a diplomatic embarrassment. The Commonwealth could have saved itself further embarrassment if it had adopted the proposal in the EPG report to abolish this function. Finally, the ‘third Commonwealth’ (the ‘people’s Commonwealth’) is an interesting and distinctive feature of the ‘family’. No fewer than 90 civil society organizations have close contacts with the Commonwealth Secretariat. These include prestigious institutions such as the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Press Union and the Commonwealth Games Federation (which organizes the summer games of over 70 countries every four years, alternating with the Olympics: by far one of the most popular features of the Commonwealth) and the growing number of NGOs and civil society groups such as the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). The Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) brings together established and emerging market multinational corporations to advance public–private partnerships, including those with headquarters in the Commonwealth BRICS, India and South Africa (for example, ABSA, De Beers, DStv, Infosys, Nando’s, Reliance, Shoprite, Tata) and those that largely operate in the Commonwealth BRICS but have formal headquarters in Europe (Anglo American, ArcelorMittal) or the United States (SABMiller). Timothy M. Shaw refers to Commonwealth(s) in his writings in order to highlight the extended family dimension.23 Some of the larger of these organizations preceded the formal establishment of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth of Learning or Commonwealth Foundation, but it was only in 1997 that CHOGM in Edinburgh formally recognized the extended Commonwealth family by arranging a platform for regular institutionalized interactions between the Commonwealth Secretariat and business, civil society and youth groups. Many activities of the Business, Human Rights, People’s and Youth Forums take place in the margins of the CHOGM and other ministerial conferences. Although this bottom-up civil society aspect of the Commonwealth may be applauded, here too the picture is not an entirely positive one. Many of these organizations do not need the official and bureaucratic Commonwealth to survive, and if the Commonwealth were to fail, many of them could just rename themselves and continue with their daily activities. Other organizations more closely associated with the first and second Commonwealths suffer problems associated with ageing (and largely male) memberships and financial setbacks. In outlining these three Commonwealths, we have focused on the ‘formal’ Commonwealth institutions; the picture can be further expanded by taking into consideration an ‘informal’ Commonwealth, manifested in the Anglophone world through cultural phenomena such as Bollywood in India and Nollywood in Nigeria and sports such as cricket and rugby. Timothy M. Shaw calls this the ‘Commonwealth Plus’, to capture what he sees as commonalities across different states and societies of the Commonwealth, including the many diasporas. These have been diffused via multiple ‘extra-official’ or non-institutional features or networks of the Commonwealth such as culture, language and literature, media and sports, which enable the Secretariat and Foundation, Games and professional associations to claim a degree of influence.24 The British Council, the BBC and other media organizations, the English-Speaking Union, Lonely Planet, Oxfam, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and other such bodies reinforce the Anglophone world which some have dubbed the ‘Anglosphere’. This Commonwealth Plus very much reflects the changing character of Britain, the Commonwealth and the world. Notwithstanding the existence of this wide variety of bodies and organizations, some of them in a precarious state, at the Colombo CHOGM a new episode of institution-building was announced. A Commonwealth Youth Council is to be based in Sri Lanka with funding from Pakistan; Mauritius proposed the establishment of a Climate Finance Skills Hub, and Malta a Small States Centre of Excellence. It was also decided at Colombo that a study on the easing of the cross-border movement of Commonwealth citizens engaged in bona fide travel would be commissioned, and an open-ended High-Level Working Group of Heads would prepare a Commonwealth response to the post-2015 development agenda. Who is in charge? Internal challenges and competition Since the Commonwealth has no formal constitution, it is guided by a series of agreements and precedents embodying its principles and aims, generally known as declarations or statements, and issued by the CHOGM. Together, these constitute a foundation of Commonwealth values and a history of concern in global affairs. The first fundamental statement of core beliefs is the Declaration of Common- wealth Principles, which was issued at the 1971 summit in Singapore. The Declaration defines the voluntary character and consensual working methods of the Commonwealth, specifying the goals and objectives of the association. It was followed by many other initiatives: the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment (1989), the Harare Commonwealth Declaration (1991), the Millbrook Action Programme (1995), the Latimer House Principles (2004), the Trinidad and Tobago Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles (2009) and the Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles (2011), to name a few. In Colombo, this list was extended with three new statements: the Colombo Declaration on Sustain- able, Inclusive and Equitable Development, the Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment, and the Magampura Declaration of Commitment to Young People. This long list immediately shows the diverse set of topics covered by the Commonwealth. The analysis of the tripartite structure of the formal Commonwealth set out above has already indicated the wide variety of potential internal challenges and external influences with which it has to cope; in this section, we take a closer look at four overlapping internal issues which undermine the Commonwealth’s claim to relevance and influence. All must be taken into consideration if successful reform is to be achieved. Mandate As noted above, the Commonwealth is guided by a series of declarations and statements that were eventually codified in 2013 by the adoption of the non-binding Commonwealth Charter. For many (especially media organizations and policy-makers in the West), the yardstick by which the success or failure of the Commonwealth is evaluated is its promotion of values. More specifically, this means its ability to promote human rights and democracy in its member states.25 Recent instances have involved Fiji, the Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. From the perspective of the first Commonwealth, this is definitely the case. However, discussions on this matter are highly sensitive and run the risk of becoming ideological, or even merely philosophical, debates. The current reshuf- fling of power consequent on the rise of the BRICS has highlighted these debates.26 Is the Commonwealth a force for good in the world? If so, is it better to exclude countries such as Sri Lanka? What about Gambia, now that it has unexpectedly left the Commonwealth, apparently without any forewarning or rationale? From the perspective of the second Commonwealth, human rights are less relevant than the rhetoric might suggest; as indicated, there is only a small human rights unit dealing with these issues on a daily basis. Economic and political relations among the member states are the focal issues; within these areas, development and youth are seen as particularly important, with dedicated funds allocated to them. The wide variety of actors within the third Commonwealth represents a diversity of groups defined by religion, approach and many other factors. They symbolize the potential soft power role of the Commonwealth. It could be argued that overall the mandate of the Commonwealth is one of stimulating ‘democracy, development and diversity’ in the world: the three Ds. How these ideals may be put into practice is another discussion, for which only limited space is available here. With regard to democracy and human rights, the Commonwealth has been rather reluctant to act in the last decade; as the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has pointed out: ‘The moral authority of the Commonwealth has too often been undermined by the repressive actions of member governments. We were disturbed to note the ineffectiveness of the mechanisms for upholding the Commonwealth’s values’.27 A clear credibility problem also attaches to development. In 2011 a review of the Department for International Development (DFID) found that the Commonwealth did not live up to international standards and was offering poor value for money. This finding was backed by DFID’s counterparts in Australia and Canada.28 With regard to diversity, there is much still to be done. In the words of former Secretary General Anyaoku: ‘The world remains crippled by conflict and, in a globalised age, the fault lines are increasingly within states and communities rather than between nations. The terrors of the new age have released the curse of “otherness”; and difference is not a cause of curiosity and celebration but suspicion and fear.’29 An important step has been taken by the Commonwealth with the thoughtful 2007 report Civil paths to peace, the outcome of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding chaired by Amartya Sen.30 Although very timely, this report has not resulted in concrete policies. This confirms the general observation that first and foremost the Commonwealth needs to reflect on what it can do, and where it can make a difference. As Sir Ronald Sanders recently stated: ‘The Secretariat should retire (a) work that enjoyed no specific Commonwealth advantage, (b) work that could be better done by organisations with far greater resources; and (c) work that had demonstrated no particular impact.’31 The British imperial past and current ‘dominance’ For some analysts, the Commonwealth is not an organization of equals. Some British influence, if not domination or hegemony, might be presumed. Based in London, the Commonwealth is often seen locally as a vehicle for wider UK foreign policy strategy. In addition, its official head has always been the British monarch—since 1952, Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated her diamond jubilee in 2012. The fact that the Commonwealth is based in London generates scepticism, even suspicion. Its location, especially the imperial aura of Marlborough House, owned by the British royal family, continues to indicate the colonial genesis, if not inheritance, of the organization. On the other hand, we would argue that it is not the organization’s location in the UK that is notable so much as its situation in cosmopolitan London, among that city’s many diasporas. London represents not only the past and present of the Commonwealth but also its multicultural, multiracial and postcolonial future.32 Networks of global cities are increasingly studied for their importance in global governance. Many of the non-state networks animated or orchestrated by the ‘Commonwealth of the people’ meet in London. And the city itself is one of the foremost in a growing network of mega-cities. The UK has always felt reluctant to take the lead in the Commonwealth, but as its biggest donor it surely holds a special place. Krishnan Srinivasan, former Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, argued for a more prominent role for Britain. The main message of his 2005 book was a plea for British leadership and prominence in the ‘British Commonwealth’.33 This suggestion was met by separate reviews from five prominent Commonwealth scholars, all of whom reacted with surprise to the author’s main message.34 The Commonwealth is rooted in British history and dominance but has long since grown beyond this. The official (symbolic) leadership issue is becoming acute as the Queen—the midwife of the Commonwealth in its formative period of decolonization—approaches 90 years of age, and it is compounded by the less attractive global image, and less relevant connections to the Commonwealth, of her successor, Prince Charles. The Queen is still formal Head of State of 16 of the Commonwealth members.35 However, in a club of over 50 independent states, the majority of whose members are republics, this inheritance or relic of the past raises many questions.36 Britain’s reluctance to become more deeply involved is not helped by the fact that it does not now need the Commonwealth to promote the English language abroad. Globalization did that, thanks to US hegemony. Even in France, universities increasingly provide classes in English. As David Graddol notes in a British Council report, the reason for ‘the current enthusiasm for English in the world is closely tied to the complex processes of globalization ... the future of English has become more closely tied to the future of globalization itself ’ as the global lingua franca.37 The Commonwealth Plus, including Bollywood and Nollywood, promulgates its own versions of English. Thought leadership What will be the future of the Commonwealth when Queen Elizabeth II is no longer on the throne? Is she, as the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne has stated, the only one who understands the true value of the Commonwealth?38 In a broader context, who leads the Commonwealth? The UK cannot be considered the hegemon, and few other states seem willing to take the lead. Within Whitehall the Commonwealth is loved by few.39 For the current government, it is largely a tool for keeping Tory Eurosceptics diverted. Although there are unique opportunities for other countries such as India and South Africa to take up a more prominent role, they show great reluctance to do so. Within the Secretariat, the new buzzword is ‘thought leadership’, though it is unclear what the current Secretary General, a distinguished career diplomat, means by this. In the Sri Lankan controversy, he just shuffled off the responsibility for hosting the meeting in Colombo to the member states in a disastrous Channel 4 interview. This may have been technically correct, but the position of secretary general should be more than a nice retirement plan. During the last 20 years, secretaries general have shied away from any bold statements or concrete reform proposals, in contrast to their more ‘dirigiste’ predecessor, Sonny Ramphal.40 This reduces the idea of ‘thought leadership’ to cheap business talk with little content. Or, as David Brooks fantastically observed in his satirical New York Times column: ‘The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. . . . He spends spring break unicycling across Thailand while reading to lepers.’41 Membership Some members and leaders are more active than others. It is often said that the Commonwealth mainly serves the goals of the SIDS. However, they account for only a small proportion of its population. There are often references in official documents to the ‘Commonwealth of the people’, which should not be confused with the ‘people’s Commonwealth’. If one takes this slogan at face value, then India and its people represent more than 50 per cent of the membership’s population, and should therefore be the nucleus of Commonwealth activities.42 However, given India’s ambiguous relationship with the Commonwealth, the organization is more likely to prefer to privilege other large, but more interested, players such as Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa, or even Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore. The apparent lack of interest of the global South also contrasts with the unclear orientation of established, traditional players like the ABC countries. In this sense, a unique opportunity for countries like India or South Africa to play a more leading role in international affairs is missed. Often the role of Africa is sadly overlooked. Yet, with 18 members, it is by far the most important region within the Commonwealth, and many of the organization’s policies directly focus on Africa. As is so often the case in international organizations, Africa is on many occasions the core focus of attention, but the African voice or perspective is often missing. As Sophie Harman and William Brown have indicated with regard to academic debates: ‘Africa is at the core of empirical understandings of international relations but often at the periphery of theoretical insights.’43 How relevant is the Commonwealth to global governance in the twenty- first century? External challenges and fragmentation Whereas the previous section of this article focused on internal matters and their challenges, this section looks at the complex and very competitive external environment in which the Commonwealth operates. This environment is increasingly characterized by heterogeneous forms of ‘global governance’, involving a wide variety of goals, actors and structures. Global issues and responses are afflicted by fragmentation, duplication and many other ‘pathologies’. The fact that the Commonwealth touches on many different topics makes it a participant, whether explicit or implicit, in a growing network of hypercomplexity. Within such dense networks, four sets of increasingly important groups of actors can be identified as potential partners or, indeed rivals: other international organizations, other ‘Commonwealths’, regional organizations and global policy networks. Other international organizations As a small organization, the Commonwealth Secretariat has sought from the very beginning to establish meaningful interactions with other international organizations. With regard to the UN, the Commonwealth is a firm promoter of UN norms in fields such as human rights, climate change, and peace and security, many of which it has endorsed in its principles and declarations. All Commonwealth members also belong to the UN, and the Secretariat has observer status at the UN General Assembly. Since 1983, the Commonwealth has funded and administered a Joint Office for Commonwealth Permanent Missions to the United Nations for eleven small Commonwealth member states. A similar initiative was taken in 2011 for Geneva. Even in a field where one might least expect the Commonwealth to act, that of peace and security, it has been supportive of UN actions. The Commonwealth has participated in every high-level meeting between the UN secretary general and the heads of regional and other intergovernmental organizations since their inception in 1994.44 The Commonwealth’s good offices have been used in conflicts in Swaziland, Tonga, Guyana, Fiji and the Maldives, places distant from and, not surprisingly, of little geopolitical interest to most Great Powers in the world. In respect of SIDS, the Commonwealth is also successfully collaborating with the World Bank, having set up a joint task force on small states. The collaboration between different international organizations is an interesting way to deal with fragmentation in global governance. The commonwealths have to network to survive: which of them has the greatest networking potential? Other commonwealths The Commonwealth has to take into account other post-colonial ‘commonwealths’, namely its Lusophone, Spanish and French equivalents. Innovation and competition between commonwealths has led to their evolution, even their creation in the case of the Lusophone commonwealth, established when Mozambique was admitted to the anglophone Commonwealth on the return to the fold of South Africa under Nelson Mandela in the mid-1990s. The relationship with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) merits particular attention.45 Rwanda left the OIF before being admitted to the anglophone Commonwealth at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. However, in the last decade, the Commonwealth and OIF have embarked on extensive collaboration. For several years now, they have organized joint meetings in the margins of the G20. Another very important example is the Hubs and Spokes programme, whereby they collaborate with the EU and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific states) in order to provide capacity and training for ACP countries in international trade negotiations. So, somewhat ironically, one of the more successful Commonwealth projects is supported by EU funds. Regional organizations Closely related to the rise of global international organizations is the proliferation of regional organizations. The Commonwealth faces increasing competition from these organizations. Yet care needs to be taken in making this point, for regional cooperation varies from region to region. Regional organizations in Africa, the Caribbean and Europe are particularly well coordinated and therefore do present a challenge to the Commonwealth. Clearly, in the case of Cyprus, Malta and the UK, the EU is the more important organization. The continuous crisis about the UK’s membership in and attitudes towards the EU occasionally generates discussions about the UK leaving the EU and taking a stronger position in the Commonwealth, although the prospect is illusory. For the African countries, there are many regional organizations, including the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States, to name but a few. Countries such as South Africa and Nigeria prefer these forums over the Commonwealth. In the Caribbean, there are also other alternatives to the Commonwealth for collective action. However, we note that in this region the Commonwealth is often relied upon to amplify communications from other, less visible, regional entities. For the South and South-East Asian and South Pacific members there are fewer alternatives to the Commonwealth. Poorer Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or the Pacific micro-states struggle to get their voices heard on the world stage. For them, the Commonwealth has clear benefits. But it is also through its Commonwealth membership that the Anglo- phone world has shown an interest in Sri Lanka, otherwise nothing more than an exotic holiday destination in the Indian Ocean. Global policy networks Finally, the rise of social networks in our daily lives is also reflected in international relations. We observe the growing relevance of global policy networks in the global governance of development, trade, health and the environment. The Commonwealth has been a network for many years: on one level it can be seen as a pioneer in this regard. But in a world where technological change has seen dramatic changes in the way both organizations and individuals conduct their affairs, it must be aware of the danger of falling behind bigger organizations and institutions. There is some concern that the Commonwealth is not ‘networking’ enough. Diane Stone identifies five kinds of global policy networks on the basis of their changing influence over different stages of policy-making. First, there are the transnational advocacy coalitions consisting of NGOs and activists. Second, there are business-related networks such as CBC. Third, there are transnational executive networks where government officials play a central role, such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). Fourth, there is the group of global public policy networks to which the Global Water Partnership, for instance, belongs. Finally, there are knowledge networks and epistemic communities which present scholarly argumentation and scientific justification for evidence-based policy formulation.46 Functions of global policy networks can be related to participation, on the one hand, or to global governance, on the other. Networks may or may not include non-state actors, civil society and business enterprises. From the governance aspect, networks are involved in different stages of the policy process. They set global agendas, develop standards or coordinate knowledge dissemination. The Commonwealth Secretariat may influence policy but is not a policy-maker. This point relates to recent concern about the Commonwealth’s visibility. It is not so much a source of new ideas as an intermediate diffuser of ideas that originate somewhere else, for example in the UN or the World Bank. In this regard, more active involvement in current global policy networks would be advisable. Perhaps it would even be worth initiating new networks on core Commonwealth concerns. This would require a renewed activism from the secretary general more in the spirit of Sonny Ramphal, who can be seen as a global citizen, active in idea diffusion through his participation in a series of blue-ribbon global commis- sions when the ‘Third World’ was a central feature of global governance, and in his acting as co-chair of the post-Cold War Commission on Global Governance, leading to its 1995 report Our global neighbourhood. Conclusion: Commonwealth futures post-2015 If Susan Strange is right and international organizations never seem to die, we should at least make better use of them. This article has revolved around the central question of whether successful Commonwealth reform is possible. A new round of lofty reform proposals will not change much. Concrete action plans are necessary. The passage of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s half-century should be used to reflect on the organization’s future, not to celebrate its past. It can allow the Commonwealth to take advantage of its strengths—informality, hybridity and its network character—to advance global governance by advancing relevant hybrid coalitions. As the global South rises and other political economies in the North Atlantic and Pacific stabilize, so the Commonwealth could ride the wave of rebalancing, addressing itself to the many and disparate issues of concern to its members: culture, democracy, economics, ecology, education, health, the particular needs of islands and so on. The rise of the global South, which seems to us a more significant trend than the celebrated rising economic potentialities of the BRICS, challenges the orthodox understanding of global governance and will put more emphasis on the advancement of relevant hybrid coalitions of actors. The Commonwealth was a social network long before the concept had true meaning; it is now time for the Commonwealth to network more. It should find the right partners within the public and private sector to advance human development. The Secretariat should again become a global player capable of punching above its weight. This can only be done with clear and dynamic leadership. In 2015, member states can elect a new secretary general. They should seek a dynamic and visionary candidate who can inspire people and knows how to deal with the media. But, more importantly, it should be a man or woman who reasserts the Secretariat as a useful arena of creation and reflection. Its staffing and budget will remain very limited, so it will need a clear-cut programme of action executed by a dynamic team to save it from irrelevance. Strengthening the human rights unit would be a start. Similarly, concrete deeds with regard to the environment, food and climate change in the SIDS spirit that comfortably fits the Commonwealth agenda would strongly mark new ways for the Commonwealth to be a diffuser, not merely a receiver, of ideas. If member states fail to make these choices, they will be giving the Commonwealth the kiss of death. We have shown that owing to its precarious nature and informal working methods, the Commonwealth is truly an organization driven by its member states. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We are living in a time of enormous opportunities for dynamic states. Classical middle powers like Australia and Canada can play an increasingly prominent role in overcoming North– South divides. But to an even greater extent, African and Asian states could find in the Commonwealth a vehicle through which to play a truly global role and enrich discussions with new insights. The Commonwealth is not, and should not be, a colonial white men’s club. Indeed, the ABC countries are increasingly multicultural and multiracial. We are in dire need of new recipes for global governance in order to advance novel forms of international relations, the basis for post-2015 contributions to global governance.47 The year 2015 should be the year in which the Commonwealth finds a new tune. And like the famous jazz standard—that unique wider Atlantic mélange of styles and influences—‘It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing.’ * We would like to thank Stephen Kingah, Christopher L. Lock, Léonie Maes, Luk Van Langenhove and Marieke Zwartjes for valuable comments. The usual disclaimer applies. 1. D. H. Lawrence, ‘Phoenix’, in The complete poems of D. H. Lawrence (London: Wordsworth Editions, 1994), p.614. The phoenix can represent many aspects of human life, including empire. See R. Van den Broek, The myth of the phoenix, according to classical and early Christian tradition (Leiden: Brill, 1972), p. 9. 2. Susan Strange, ‘Why do international organizations never die?’, in Bob Reinalda and Bertjan Verbeek, eds, Autonomous policy making by international organizations (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 213–20. 3. James Mayall, ‘Introduction’, in James Mayall, ed., The contemporary Commonwealth: an assessment 1965–2009 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), p.3 Even the very identity of the Commonwealth as an international organiza- tion has been the topic of debate: see William Dale, ‘Is the Commonwealth an international organisation?’, International and Comparative Law Quarterly 31: 3, 1982, pp. 451–73. 4. Hedley Bull, ‘What is the Commonwealth?’, World Politics 11: 4, 1959, pp. 577–87. 5. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, The role and future of the Commonwealth. Fourth Report of Session 2012–13 (London: The Stationery Office, 2012), p. 24, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/ cmselect/cmfaff/114/114.pdf, accessed 14 July 2014. 6. Andrew Hurrell, On global order: power, values, and the constitution of international society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 6; see also esp. ch. 4. 7. Anthony Payne, ‘How many Gs are there in “global governance” after the crisis? The perspectives of the “marginal majority” of the world states’, International Affairs 86: 3, May 2010, pp. 729–40. 8. Commonwealth Secretariat, A Commonwealth of the people: time for urgent reform. The report of the Eminent Persons Group to Commonwealth Heads of Government (Perth, October 2011), http://www.sirronaldsanders.com/Docs/ EPG%20Report%20FINALprintedVersion.pdf, accessed 22 July 2014. 9. Ronald Sanders, ‘The Commonwealth as a champion of small states’, in Mayall, ed., The contemporary Common- wealth, pp. 83–102. The SIDS also formed their own Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) group, which comprises 44 of the world’s small island states, and is one of the strongest defenders of binding rules regarding greenhouse gas reductions. So, aside from the Commonwealth, SIDS found it necessary to have their own advocacy group. 10. Timothy M. Shaw, Commonwealth: inter- and non-state contributions to global governance (Abingdon: Routledge, 2008). 11. Pursa Sen, ‘Commonwealth Charter is a fig leaf that will change little for LGBT people’, Open Democracy, 27 March 2013, http://www.opendemocracy.net/purna-sen/commonwealth-charter-is-fig-leaf-that-will-change- little-for-lgbt-people, accessed 14 July 2014. 12. Francis Baert, ‘The United Nations Intellectual History Project and the role of ideas’, in Bob Reinalda, ed.,The Ashgate research companion to non-state actors (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011). 13. Inis L. Claude Jr, Swords into plowshares: the problems and prospects of international organization (New York: Random House, 1956). 14. Thomas G. Weiss, Tatiana Carayannis and Richard Jolly, ‘The “third” United Nations’, Global Governance 15: 1, 2009, pp. 123–42. 15. Fiji is currently suspended, Gambia left voluntarily in 2013 and Zimbabwe forsook the organization in 2003 under huge pressure. The 53 current member states are: Antigua and Barbuda,* Australia,* Bahamas,* Bang- ladesh, Barbados,* Belize,* Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada,* Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Ghana, Grenada,* Guyana, India, Jamaica,* Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand,* Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea,* St Kitts and Nevis,* St Lucia,* St Vincent and the Grenadines,* Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands,* South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu,* Uganda, United Kingdom,* Vanuatu and Zambia. Members marked with a * are Commonwealth realms, in which the British monarch is head of state. 16. LornaLloyd,Diplomacywithadifference: the Commonwealth Office of High Commissioner, 1880–2006 (Leiden:Brill,2007). 17. Shaw, Commonwealth, p. 41; Stuart Mole, ‘“Seminars for statesmen”: the evolution of the Commonwealth summit’, The Round Table 93: 376, 2004, pp. 533–46. 18. Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore, Rules for the world: international organizations in global politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004). 19. Office for National Statistics, ‘Civil Service statistics 2012’, Statistical Bulletin, 24 Oct. 2012, table 11, pp. 32–3. According to these statistics, the FCO has a staff of 5,840, DFID 1,700. See http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/ dcp171778_284549.pdf, accessed 14 July 2014. See also House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, The role and future of the Commonwealth, examination of witness Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, 19 June 2012. 20. Report of the one-day conference held by the UK Institute of Commonwealth Studies, ‘The Commonwealth in crisis: is reform possible?’, 15 Nov. 2012, Deller Hall, University of London, p. 9, http://www.sirronald-sanders.com/Docs/Commonwealth%20in%20Crisis%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf, accessed 22 July 2014. 21. Statement by HE Shridath Ramphal to Commonwealth Permanent Representatives, United Nations, New York, 18 Oct. 1976, cited in Stuart Mole, ‘From Smith to Sharma: role of the Secretary General’, in Mayall,ed., The contemporary Commonwealth, p. 61. 22. Commonwealth Secretariat, 60 ways the Commonwealth makes a difference (London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2009), http://secretariat.thecommonwealth.org/files/215762/FileName/60Ways.pdf, accessed 22 July 2014. 23. Shaw, Commonwealth.  24. Shaw, Commonwealth,p.16. 25. James Mayall, ‘Democratizing the Commonwealth’, International Affairs 74: 2, 1998, pp. 379–92. 26. Andrew Hurrell, ‘Hegemony, liberalism and global order: what space for would-be powers?’, International Affairs 82: 1, 2006, pp. 1–19. 27. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, The role and future of the Commonwealth, p. 3. 28. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, The role and future of the Commonwealth, p. 35. 29. Emeka Anyaoku, ‘Through the past, glimpses of the future’, in Commonwealth yearbook (London: Common-wealth Secretariat, 2009), cited in Mole, ‘From Smith to Sharma’, p. 63. 30. Commonwealth Secretariat, Civil paths to peace: report of Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding (London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2007). 31. ‘The Commonwealth in crisis: is reform possible?’, p. 19. 32. John McLeod, Postcolonial London: rewriting the metropolis (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004). 33. Krishnan Srinivasan, The rise, decline and future of the British Commonwealth (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005).  34. W. David McIntyre, Stuart Mole, Lucian M. Ashworth, Timothy M. Shaw and Alex May, ‘Whose Common- wealth? Responses to Krishnan Srinivasan’s The rise, decline and future of the British Commonwealth’, The Round Table 96: 388, 2006, pp. 57–70. 35. For the list of Commonwealth realms, see note 15 above. Also to be taken into account are the 14 British overseas territories regulated by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002: Sovereign Bay areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands. And New Zealand’s responsibilities include Tokelau, the Cook Islands and Niue. 36. Philip Murphy and Daisy Cooper, Queen Elizabeth II should be the final head of the Commonwealth, ‘Opinions’ (London: Commonwealth Advisory Bureau, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, July 2012). 37. David Graddol, English next (London: British Council, 2006), p. 13. See also Timothy M. Shaw, ‘Towards “new multilateralisms”? Globalization, anti-globalization and the Commonwealth’, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 41: 3, 2003, pp. 1–12. 38. Peter Oborne, ‘Only the Queen understands the true value of the Commonwealth’, Telegraph, 27 Dec. 2013. See also on this point Philip Murphy, Monarchy and the end of empire: the House of Windsor, the British government, and the postwar Commonwealth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). 39. For an exception, see David Howell, Old links and new ties: power and persuasion in an age of networks (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014). 40. Stephen Chan, ‘An ornithology of secretaries-general: the Commonwealth and its leadership’, The Round Table 94: 380, 2005, pp. 325–37. 41. David Brooks, ‘The thought leader’, New York Times, 16 Dec. 2013. 42. Commonwealth Secretariat, A Commonwealth of the people. 43. Sophie Harman and William Brown, ‘In from the margin? The changing character of Africa in International Relations’, International Affairs 89: 1, 2013, p. 87. 44. UNU-CRIS, Capacity survey: regional and other intergovernmental organizations in the maintenance of peace and security (Bruges: UNU-CRIS, 2008), http://www.cris.unu.edu/fileadmin/user_upload/capacity_survey.pdf, accessed 14 July 2014; Philippe de Lombaerde, Francis Baert and Tania Felicio, eds, The United Nations and the regions: Third World report on regional integration (Dordrecht: Springer, 2012). 45. There is an overlap in membership, with several countries belonging to both organizations: Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, St Lucia and Vanuatu. See Timothy M. Shaw, ‘Comparative commonwealths: an overlooked feature of global governance’, Third World Quarterly 31: 2, 2010, pp. 333–46. 46. Diane Stone, ‘Global public policy, transnational policy communities, and their networks’, Policy Studies Jour- nal 36: 1, 2008, pp. 19–38. 47. Timothy M. Shaw and Lucian M. Ashworth, ‘Commonwealth perspectives on International Relations’, International Affairs 85: 5, Sept. 2010, pp. 1149–65.
Why the Commonwealth Games Still Matter

Why the Commonwealth Games Still Matter

There was a buzz of excitement in the air for athletes, coaches and volunteers — and for me — when the 2018 Commonwealth Games started with spectacular opening ceremonies in Gold Coast, Australia. But despite the glitzy ceremony, the shine of the Commonwealth Games appears to have dulled. There is declining media coverage for these Games, while a cultural shift has lead many to question the merit of the Commonwealth. Considering the waning interest, why do the Commonwealth Games still exist? The Commonwealth is rooted in its historical past of sovereign and independent states that formally made up the British Empire and its traditional trade relations between member states. An equal voice What sets the Commonwealth apart from other assembled nations is that all members share a commitment to democracy, humanity and equality. Unlike the United Nations, all countries have an equal voice, no matter their size. This ensures even a small country like Nauru, with a population of just 10,000, has a voice as equal as India’s, with a population of more than 1.2 billion. Australian swimmer Susie O'Neill waves as she runs into Carrara Stadium with the Queen’s Baton during the opening ceremony for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) The Commonwealth Games celebrates this commonality every four years. In fact, the Commonwealth Sport Movement is an extension of the Games. Through the power of sports, there is continuous engagement with communities in between the Games years, embracing and celebrating diversity while promoting sport for development. Evolving with the times, the modern Commonwealth vision is “building peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities globally, by inspiring Commonwealth Athletes to drive the impact and ambition of all Commonwealth Citizens through sport.” A recent study exploring positive sports diplomacy found the Commonwealth Games effectively foster co-operation and friendship among member nations and territories, successfully achieving its objective. The Commonwealth Games have a long history that dates back as far as 1891, five years before the birth of the modern Olympic Games. An English minister, Rev. Astley Cooper, proposed that a Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival should occur every four years as a means of “increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire.” First held in Canada However, it would take three decades before this notion was realized. In 1930, Melville Marks (Bobby) Robinson, a Canadian sports editor and official in athletics, championed the first Games which took place in Hamilton, Ontario, with 400 athletes from 11 countries participating. Known as the British Empire Games at the time, this event also introduced various hosting concepts including the first Athletes Village, awards podium, volunteerism and media press box. Each time Canada has hosted the Commonwealth Games has been a game-changer to the Commonwealth movement. The 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver featured one of the first live televised sporting events in Canada — the iconic Miracle Mile. Three months after England’s Roger Bannister became the first person to run the mile under four minutes, he faced off against John Landy from Australia, who had since bettered Bannister’s time. Bannister won the showdown in what is still considered one of the greatest races of all time. Roger Bannister of England is supported by handlers after winning the so-called Miracle Mile race at the British Empire Games held in Vancouver in 1954. (AP WIREPHOTO) Exposure for para athletes Another game-changing moment was the renaming of the British Empire Games to the “Commonwealth Games” at the 1978 Games in Edmonton. And in 1994, the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, B.C., was the first time able-bodied and para athletes competed in the same Games. Despite the central role Canada has played in the Commonwealth Games, there appears to be a lack of knowledge, awareness and value of these Games. Perhaps the declining media exposure over the years may be partly to blame. In the past, CBC provided full coverage. This year, the only way Canadians will be able to see the events live will be if they sign up for DAZN, a subscription-based live streaming platform — CBC will only show highlights. The symbiotic relationships of sport and media offers sport a promotional platform. To illustrate this point, a moment that will forever stay with me was watching Donovan Bailey, Glenroy Gilbert, Carlton Chambers and Bruny Surin win gold in the men’s 4x100 metres at the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games. I had just begun training in the high jump and found myself glued to the television, paying particular attention to athletics. An inspiring event As I watched the men’s relay team take their victory lap with the Canadian flag, I was deeply inspired. In that moment, I decided I too wanted to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games and perhaps even the Olympic Games. I had no reason to believe I would ever be good enough to be a national team athlete, but it ignited a desire in me. To my surprise, four years later I was representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia – my first of four Commonwealth Games. Eventually, I too would take a victory lap around the track waving proudly the Canadian flag when I won the gold medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. Canada’s Nicole Forrester, the author of this article, celebrates after winning the women’s high jump final during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) Lack of media coverage of a sporting event is like a tree falling in the forest. If no one is around to hear the tree fall, does it make a sound? Likewise, if coverage of a mega sporting event like the Commonwealth Games is not freely accessible and wide-reaching, can the Games be said to exist or even be important? 71 nations at the Games The Commonwealth Games include athletes from 71 nations and territories, estimated to be approximately one third of the world’s population.  The 2018 Gold Coast Games will be the most inclusive international Games in history. These Games will be the first international Games to achieve gender equality, with the same number of medal events for women and men; the first international Games to have a reconciliation action plan, respecting and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and the largest integrated para-sport program in Commonwealth Games history. The Commonwealth Games also play an integral role in an athlete’s pursuit of excellence. Certainly, I attribute my ability of being ranked in the Top 10 in my sport and becoming an Olympian because of the Commonwealth Games. The depth of competition is high, and winning a medal at these Games can signify for an athlete they have arrived, and are among the best in the world at their sport. Building confidence Most importantly, this can go a long way in enhancing the confidence of an athlete — the cornerstone behind any great performance. In fact, 53 per cent of Canadian athletes who competed at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games were on the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. And of the 22 medals won at the Rio Games, 14 of them came from athletes who competed at the 2014 Glasgow Games. Canada’s flag-bearer diver Meaghan Benfeito walks into Carrara Stadium as Canadian athletes take part in the Parade of Nations Commonwealth Games 2018 opening ceremony in Gold Coast, Australia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz The Commonwealth Games serve as a gateway to podium performances at the Olympic Games. Athletes are able to assess how they are they are progressing midway through the quadrennial cycle while also comparing how they measure up to their competitors while taking part in a mega sporting event.  For many Canadian athletes competing in Gold Coast, these Games are a direct pathway for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. For non-Olympic sports, these Games may be the pinnacle event in their sporting career. The Commonwealth Games are not to be taken lightly. The Commonwealth Games are to Canada what the Olympic Games are to Greece. They exist because Canada created them. The Games continues to exist because they are driven by shared values, offering excellence both on and off the field of play. For those reasons and more, the Commonwealth Games are still important.
Commonwealth Games Protested

Commonwealth Games Protested

In 1982 the Commonwealth Games were held in Brisbane. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people used the international focus on the event to their benefit, bringing to light the injustices they faced every day by staging a protest. Brisbane 1982 - Highlighting injustices The Commonwealth Games is an international sporting event between current and former colonies of the British Empire held every 4 years. In 1982 they were held in Brisbane. The international attention the Games brought about provided an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to highlight the injustices and discrimination they were facing. The objectives of the protest were many and covered a range of different areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life but two of the significant issues raised were land rights and control of Aboriginal affairs. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community wanted complete ownership of their lands in Queensland and to be able to protect Country from mining.  Legalities of the marches It became clear as early as January of 1982 that activists were planning some sort of action for the Games. As the supposed ‘threat’ of Indigenous activity grew closer, the then Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson declared a State of Emergency and proclaimed street marches illegal. Only two marches were approved by Queensland police making all other marches illegal. This meant that anyone who took part in unapproved marches could be arrested and charged under the new Games legislation. If a protestor was found guilty they faced a fine of up to $2,000 or two years in prison. Image: A Land Rights protest in upper Adelaide Street in 1982. Brisbane Times. The Protest As the games drew near the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community began calling out for people to come and support the protests and demonstrations against the discrimination they were suffering.  Leaders of the Community had differing views what kind of action would get the best results. Some believed peaceful rallies and cultural festivities would best get the message across while others felt that it would make little impact and that they needed to be more forceful. On September 26 around 2,000 people marched for land rights. Protesters carried placards and banners and walked peacefully from the city to a park across the Brisbane River. It was considered Queensland’s biggest Aboriginal march at the time. On September 29 another 1,000 people marched peacefully across central Brisbane in support of land rights. They held placards, banners and wore badges that read: Stop playing games: land rights now! A demonstration was held during the opening ceremony and police were called to have protesters removed. As the police moved in and began arresting people, protestors chanted 'the whole world is watching.' Thirty-nine people were arrested in that demonstration. A further 104 protesters were arrested on October 4 during a land rights sit-in near the athletics stadium. According to The Age newspaper those who were arrested were the first people to be charged under the Queensland Government's Games security laws. Most charges were dropped over the next year. On the same day around 20 spectators sat quietly in the stands of the athletics stadium holding Aboriginal flags for the duration of the program. Another rally was held on October 7. Around 500 people attended. Brisbane activist, Ross Watson, spoke to the crowd saying that "we are going to march today…we have no permit…we will be breaking the law. If you march you are likely to be arrested." About 400 police descended on a group of protestors who broke off from the main and arrested around 260 protesters including the then Governor-General’s daughter Ann Stephen. This was a stark example of police and government suppression of our people’s right to protest and free speech. Despite the harm caused by the authorities, the people involved fought hard to have their message heard.  Image: Activists peacefully protesting. Brisbane Times. Melbourne 2006 - Stolenwealth Games In 2006 the Commonwealth Games made a return to Australia and this time Melbourne was hosting. Like the 1982 protests Aboriginal people wanted to use the media attention to draw light to the disadvantage they faced in Australia. Activist group BlackGST (Genocide, Sovereignty, Treaty) planned demonstrations at prominent Games events. They stated these demonstrations would continue unless the Government agreed to a range of demands such as an end to Aboriginal genocide, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the signing of a treaty. It was at this time that the Games started being referred to as the ‘Stolenwealth Games.’  BlackGST stated that "the convergence will be held as a peaceful, family-focussed demonstration against genocide, and for the restoration of sovereignty and the negotiations towards a Treaty." One of those peaceful demonstrations was held on the Yarra pedestrian bridge between Southbank and Flinders Street Station, where a group of about 30 people held two-metre-high letters spelling ‘Stolenwealth Games.’  The Stolenwealth Games were endorsed by the Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and received support from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike. However it still received a lot of heat from sections of the mainstream media that sought to turn the public against the protestors.  Gold Coast 2018 - Return to protest In 2018 the Commonwealth Games were back in Australia this time in the Gold Coast. Once again Aboriginal activists planned a series of peaceful protest marches throughout, as well as a sit-in blockade, forums and cultural events. The legacy of the 2006 protests continued, with Kooma activist, Uncle Wayne Wharton explaining that: We call this the Stolenwealth Games because we were invaded. We are a country controlled by force. The protests of the Stolenwealth Games succeeded in grabbing mass media attention and were able to once again start the discussion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rights in this country. Sources used in writing this article: Commonwealth Games Brisbane & Aboriginal Protest, 1982, Museums VictoriaCommonwealth Games Demonstrations - Brisbane 1982, The Koori History WebsiteActivists plan to protest during the 'Stolenwealth' games, NITV'The fight never left': Stolenwealth Games protesters draw on long tradition, The Guardian. 
The Commonwealth Games: Searching for Relevancy, a Host and a Reason to Exist

The Commonwealth Games: Searching for Relevancy, a Host and a Reason to Exist

Next year’s Games in Birmingham will likely be the last on such a grand scale and some changes to safeguard the event’s future smack of desperation. The England netball player Layla Guscoth with the Commonwealth Games baton, alongside Perry the official mascot for the Birmingham 2022 Games. Photograph: Jacob King/PA It’s nine months until the start of the XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which also means it’s four years and nine months till the start of the XXIII Commonwealth Games in, well, nobody knows. The Commonwealth Games Federation was due to announce the host city for 2026 in September 2019, but the decision was postponed until 2020, and then again to 2021, and has just been pushed back again until 2022. The CGF says it expects to make an announcement in March. At the moment there’s not a single confirmed bid. The CGF president, Dame Louise Martin, says the organisation is working closely with “a number of potential host countries, who have asked to keep our discussions confidential”, which makes it sound like throwing a surprise party rather than a multisport mega-event. It’s almost as if no one wants to publicly commit to stumping up millions to host a Games memorably described by comedian John Oliver as an “off Broadway Olympics” and “the historic display of a once-mighty nation gathering together the countries it lost and finding a way to lose to them once more”. It was supposed to be held in Hamilton, Canada, but that bid faltered when it became clear the best part of $150m (£110m) in public money was needed. A petition sprung up, the local government withdrew support and the team behind it is now planning to try again, with private financing, in 2030. Kuala Lumpur, Cardiff, Calgary, Edmonton and Adelaide also pulled out from proposed bids because they were concerned about cost. All this after Durban, which was supposed to host the 2022 Games, had them taken away again because they couldn’t afford it. According to bid documents Durban’s legacy was all about “youth empowerment”. They’ve ended up with a debt and a dead hashtag, #ReadyToInspire. The last time the Commonwealth Games went through a similar sort of crisis, when the funding for the Edinburgh Games collapsed in 1986, they were bailed out by the late Robert Maxwell and his friend Ryoichi Sasakawa, who was later described, in an obituary after his death in 1995, as “the last of Japan’s A-class war criminals”. This time, the Games were saved by the British government, which, in a timely bit of post‑Brexit boosterism, decided to stump up £594m to bring the Games here. Birmingham will cover the remaining £200m-odd of costs itself. The problem goes beyond finding someone who would do likewise in four years’ time. Martin has said herself that the Commonwealth Games have been in an existential crisis for the last decade. “In recent times, our Federation has done a lot of soul-searching to look at our impact and meaning,” she said in 2018. “The Commonwealth Sport Movement reached a challenging chapter in its existence – when the very word and purpose of the ‘Commonwealth’ was questioned and the negative impacts of a Games on a host community were highlighted.” Construction at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick, Birmingham, which is being built for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Photograph: Nick Maslen/Alamy A pithier quote was attributed to Usain Bolt while he was caught standing in the rain in a car park outside the athletes village at Glasgow in 2014. Bolt is supposed to have said the Games were “a bit shit” (he has always denied it). There is a section on the Federation’s own website called “Our Relevance”, which has the unintended effect of making you wonder why they feel the need to explain it. It talks about the “unique connections and friendships”, the “transformative and connecting power of sport”, the “enduring commitment to human rights”, and “shared values” of “Humanity, Equality, and Destiny”. They are known as the “Friendly Games”, after all. The website doesn’t mention the fact that homosexuality is currently a criminal offence in 36 of the member countries, a situation which, like the Games themselves, is in the large part the legacy of British colonial rule. There are reasons to love the Commonwealth Games, even beyond a fondness for watching elite lawn bowls, like the way they provide young athletes with exposure to championship competition before the Olympics. Whether that’s worth the best part of a billion pounds is another question. For that much money the success of the Games depends less on who’s winning how many medals than it does on the nebulous question of whether they have a transformative effect on the infrastructure and economy of the host city itself. Either way, it seems that Birmingham will likely be the last Games on anything like that scale. Martin has already said as much and that the Games have to “move on and modernise”, and this week the CGF announced a “roadmap” showing how it is going to go about it. It is a genuinely radical plan, which speaks, in itself, to the severity of the problem. The number of sports included in the Games will be cut to 15, and only two of them, athletics and swimming, will be mandatory. The others will be drawn from a long list of core sports, or be local events selected because of their popularity in the host nation. E-sports and mass participation events have both been mentioned. In the future, the federation will encourage co-hosting, across cities, regions and countries (whether they’re in the Commonwealth or not), and bin the requirement for cities to build new venues and accommodations. Some of these are sensible changes, long overdue for a “mega-event” that feels, these days, like it’s struggling to live up to the description. Others smack of genuine desperation about the future of a Games that increasingly feels as though its time has passed.
Exclusive: Commonwealth Games to Downsize After Birmingham 2022

Exclusive: Commonwealth Games to Downsize After Birmingham 2022

The Commonwealth Games will never be the same again after Birmingham 2022. Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), told insidethegames: "We can’t stay as we are - it’s not sustainable. We have to move on, we have to modernise. "In the future it will be more in keeping with what the country it’s going to wants." The plan is for the Games to be smaller, easier and less costly to host, and to change them in a way that will appeal to a younger audience. Making them more attractive to Asian nations, and especially to prospective hosts from Asia, is another key aim. Only six per cent of the Commonwealth’s combined population of 2.4 billion live outside Asia and Africa, yet those two continents between them have hosted only two Commonwealth Games. Nearly two thirds of those 2.4 billion are aged under 30, and more than half live in India, which is predicted by a United Nations report to become the world’s most populous country before 2030, the Commonwealth Games’ centenary year. The CGF’s drive for change involves a complete review of the sport programme, which is now underway. "In my opinion Birmingham will be the last one of this size," said CGF President Dame Louise Martin ©Getty Images The Games schedule features too many events and too many athletes - 270 medal events in 19 sports, and 4,500 athletes in Birmingham next year. "It has to be reviewed without a doubt," said Dame Louise. "It’s not working for us because it’s very difficult to control." Esports seems likely to feature in the future, but which sports will be dropped, either temporarily or permanently, will depend on the views of the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations from nations and territories around the world. The CGF signed a partnership last year with the Global Esports Federation, whose President, Chris Chan, is secretary general of the Singapore National Olympic Committee. The review comes as the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing to have a profound effect on the global sporting landscape. There is no bidder for the 2026 Commonwealth Games and only by cutting costs and modernising can the CGF hope to find one at short notice. The 2014 and 2018 Games, in Glasgow and Gold Coast, were awarded seven years out: this time if a bidder is found the time span is likely to be nearer four years. Birmingham was also late on the scene, taking over as hosts in late 2017 after Durban was stripped of the event due to financial concerns. Co-hosting will not be discouraged, which could raise the possibility of some of the Commonwealth’s smaller nations staging some sports. Mooted bids from Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka have failed to materialise for 2026. "We’re going through a sticky patch at the moment, yes, because of all the vagaries of COVID-19 and cost-wise, but in the future I see the Commonwealth Games going from strength to strength in a completely different way to the way it’s been done in the past," Dame Louise added. "Modernise it, change it." There is no obvious host for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, now that a private Hamilton bid has abandoned its efforts to stage the event that year ©Getty Images Change is sorely needed according to a number of sport business experts, specialists from academia, and those who work in the Commonwealth Games movement who were canvassed by insidethegames. Some were so pessimistic they did not wish to speak on the record. Professor Simon Shibli of Sheffield Hallam University, a sport specialist and accountant, has researched and written on the economic impact of major events over decades. The proliferation of other events over the past 25 years had left the Commonwealth Games "searching for an identity". Shibli said: "In the sporting air space, it’s very, very difficult for an event to gain attention when it’s quirky, not fixed (in the sporting calendar) and not the pinnacle of achievement. Audiences are not great and commercial rights are not great. There are too few hosts. The fact that it is the friendly Games where it’s very Corinthian, the taking part that matters, has led to mismatches and joke performances." "You need to make it an elite competition based on qualification." Dame Louise said the appetite for change was there. "We have to keep reviewing our sports, we have to stay relevant to where we are at the time," she said. "It’s no good any more to sit back and say ‘We’ve always done it this way.'"