POSTED: October 31st 2012

JOHN GOODBODY: London Olympics redouble interest in the Commonwealth Games

Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games July 23rd - August 3rd 2014 / Glasgow 2014
Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games July 23rd - August 3rd 2014 / Glasgow 2014

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

October 31 - Not the least of the legacies of the gloriously successful London Olympics has been the huge increase in the interest in the Commonwealth Games, which will be staged in Glasgow in 2014. This is the year when Scotland will vote whether it wants to remain part of the United Kingdom or return to being a separate country as it was until 1707.

So, for some Scots, these Games are an opportunity to demonstrate just how well they can cope without particular help from England, their larger southern neighbour. For many others, the event is a matter of pride that Glasgow can also show how well it can stage a complex multi-sports event.

Of course, the Commonwealth Games are not the Olympics, with their vast global interest. However, they will still attract more than 70 participating countries, for most of whom the Commonwealth Games are the second most important multi-sports competition in the sporting calendar. They are known as ‘The Friendly Games’, because of the ease of communication among athletes since all the athletes speak English and also because of the relative lack of intensity about the event.

Most of the 17 sports are in the Olympics but several, such as netball and lawn bowls, are not and for the competitors in those activities, these Games are probably the highlight of their careers.

Just like the International Olympic Committee, the Commonwealth Games Federation sets up a Co-ordination Commmission and, after a recent visit, it expressed satisfaction at the progress that Glasgow was making for 2014.

The Commission chairman Bruce Robertson pointed to the “positive boost during and after the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Already 250,000 people are engaged with the Games through Glasgow 2014 social media platforms before real promotion has started.”

The Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council have agreed to underwrite the Organising Committee’s running costs of staging the Games, which is estimated to be just under £536 million. Only three completely new venues are required, at a combined cost of just over £200 million, with upgrading to existing facilities being budgeted at £70 million. A new Games Village is being built at a cost of about £230 million and will later become much-needed housing.

Since the London Olympics, interest has escalated in Glasgow 2014, with more than 40 per cent of Scots saying that last summer’s Games had increased their interest for the Commonwealth Games, which will take place over 11 days beginning on July 23. There are already 10 official sponsors –unlike the Olympics, perimeter advertising is allowed at the Commonwealth Games—and these backers include global brands as Toshiba TEC, Longines and Atos.

 And the number of sponsors is likely to rise now that the Olympics are over and that companies have realised the impact that these multi-sports Games can have. After all, many companies will feel that they missed out at being involved in London and will now want to make some partial rectification.

They will also remember the huge enthusiasm at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, an event which served as a stepping-stone to London’s Olympic bid. As Seb Coe himself said those Manchester Games”got us out of jail” because they showed the world, during a period when a British bid was being particularly questioned,  what the atmosphere and organisation would be like were London to host the 2012 Olympics.  

For the athletes themselves, the Commonwealth Games are often the ideal preparation for young athletes as they build their careers towards the Olympics. So the Olympic Movement can take pride in the fact that it generates interest in sport not solely for the period when its own Games are being held every four years.

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2012 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 12th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.

Keywords · London 2012 · John Goodbody · Commonwealth Games · Glasgow 2014

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