Massive Commonwealth Games overhaul as compulsory sports cut

The Commonwealth Games are set for a radical overhaul with netball among the many sports said to be under threat of eviction.

In what looks like a desperate bid for survival, only athletics and swimming will remain as compulsory sports with 14 others becoming optional.

The plan, confirmed in a BBC report by Games president Dame Louise Martin of Scotland, allows the cities to heavily shape the programme.

As well as promoting modern youth-orientated sports such as skateboarding – as the Olympics have done -host countries can opt for local favourites. India might choose kabaddi for instance.

Birmingham hosts next year’s Games with Australia, Canada, India and Sri Lanka said to be interested in the 2026 event.

But it has become a struggle to find cities interested in bidding for the Games, the BBC said.

Dame Louise said hosts could not only determine the events, but who they might share the hosting rights with.

“I think that would be a win-win situation for everybody because it opens up the Commonwealth Games to other smaller countries and, to me, that is the way forward,” she said.

“We have been trying hard to get smaller countries to host a Games…if somebody has a fantastic athletics stadium but the country next to them has got a fantastic shooting range, link up together and see what we can do.

“What we have to do is find the sports that the youth of today work with. So nothing is off the table.”

As part of an effort to reduce costs, an athletes’ village will no longer be mandatory.

The BBC report said that non-Olympic sports such as squash, netball and lawn bowls will find the reforms “especially worrying”.

“There will inevitably be anxiety among the many sports whose place in the programme will no longer be mandatory,” the BBC claimed.

Athletics and swimming have been protected because of their historical significance plus “universality, participation, broadcasting, spectator interest, Para-inclusion and gender balance” reasons.

The 16 set sports for Birmingham next year are athletics (including Para-athletics), badminton, boxing, road cycling, artistic gymnastics, hockey, judo, lawn bowls (including Para-bowls), netball, rugby sevens, squash, swimming (including Para-swimming), table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting/powerlifting and freestyle wrestling.

Diving, basketball (3×3 and wheelchair), mountain biking, track and time trial cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, Para-triathlon, beach volleyball, women’s T20 cricket and Para-table tennis were chosen from the optional sports.

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