March 25, 2020 / 4:41 PM / 15 days ago

Commonwealth Games: CGF seeking to avoid fixture clashes with Birmingham 2022

LONDON (Reuters) - Commonwealth Games organisers are firm on the dates for Birmingham 2022 and want sports affected by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to work with them and avoid ‘cannibalising opportunities’ for all.

FILE PHOTO: Athletes train in the Alexander Athletics Stadium after the announcement that it will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Britain December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples/File Photo

The English city is due to stage the 22nd edition of the Games from July 27 to August 7 but both athletics and swimming world championships now face a potential clash with the Olympics in 2021.

The International Olympic Committee has said the Tokyo Games, postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, must happen by summer next year.

“Obviously we need to look at where this pandemic goes in general, but we are still focused on a successful Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on the original dates,” Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive David Grevemberg told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Olympic postponement has created a major headache for sports schedulers, with World Athletics president Sebastian Coe saying on Tuesday the Aug 6-15 2021 world championships in Portland, Oregon, could slip to 2022.

Swimming’s world championships are scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, from July 16-Aug. 1 and could overlap with a rescheduled Olympics.

If shifted to 2022, that could deny British fans the chance to see current Olympic and world breaststroke champion Adam Peaty going for gold at home.

“We are asking that those IFs (international federations) work in close cooperation with ourselves so that we can maximise two great opportunities if it comes to that,” said Grevemberg when asked about athletics and swimming.

“That’s really the responsible thing to do and how we can maintain the sports calendar versus cannibalising opportunities and questioning the value of those opportunities to the respective athletes.

“We would like to believe that athletes get a big bounce from both events and I believe that there are solutions that can be found to work within that space if it does come to it.”

The 2022 Commonwealth Games were originally handed to Durban in South Africa but the city was stripped of hosting rights by the Commonwealth Games Federation in 2017 after the plan hit financial problems.

The quadrennial Games bring together athletes from the 52 members of the Commonwealth, most of which were at one time colonies of Britain.

YOUTH GAMES

Grevemberg said he believed the federations concerned intended, at present, to “try to maintain and juggle the calendars to contain this within 2021.”

That could still affect the multi-sport Commonwealth Youth Games, however, which are scheduled for Aug. 1-7 2021 in Trinidad and Tobago.

“For small states and island states, of which two thirds of the world’s small states and island states are in the Commonwealth, our event in Port of Spain is a big deal,” said Grevemberg.

“It’s a big deal in terms of the economy, a big deal in terms of resources, promotion and attraction to the island states.”

Grevemberg, an American, said sport also needed to learn from the Tokyo situation.

“I think this is a good lesson to us all in terms of how we communicate and there is an enormous opportunity right now to reflect on how sport has been doing its business to date,” he added.

“In terms of environmental concerns and health and safety, in a globalization and a health context, I really do think we need to think how we adapt and work smarter to address these types of realities.

“This is just going to become more frequent. We need to adapt and become more agile and effective in these types of circumstances.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge

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