BIRMINGHAM: The Commonwealth Games are ready to return in 2030 to Hamilton, the Canadian city that launched the multi-sport event 100 years ago, with Niagara Falls providing the backdrop for beach volleyball and a push to add men’s cricket to the programme.

With the federal and provincial governments expressing support and no other cities having formally thrown their hats in the ring, Hamilton bid leader Louis Frapporti told Reuters the ‘Steel City’ is the favourite when the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) makes a decision sometime next year.

“Without jinxing it we are clearly the punitive favourite if only because we have invested so much time and energy in actually creating a proposal,” said Frapporti. “The only country we are hearing any rumblings about is New Zealand.

“What we understand is we are so far ahead of them in terms of preparation of a bid that they are more likely to be interested in 2034 than 2030.”

If chosen it would mark the fifth time Canada has hosted the quadrennial event but the first since 1994 when they were held in Victoria, British Colombia.

Hamilton staged the first competition in 1930 when it was known as the British Empire Games and had just six sports; athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rowing, swimming, and wrestling.

Women competed only in aquatic events.

At the Birmingham Games, which came to close on Monday, nearly 5,000 athletes from 72 nations and territories competed in 19 sports.

For the first time at a major multi-sport event there were more medal events for women (136) than men (134) and a record eight integrated para-sports with podium finishes counting in the overall medal standings.

While the 100th anniversary provides an obvious hook on which to hang a pitch, the Hamilton100 Commonwealth Games Bid Corporation will not be playing the sentiment card but instead focus on the elements that made the Birmingham Games a success.

“We are very light on the centenary celebration elements,” said Frapporti. “Some people, like our [Hamilton] mayor, are very keen on that but from the perspective of us who have actually crafted the proposal we see that as the least compelling part of this.

“We want to get away from the concept of the Games as an event in time.

“Rather we are looking to take the CGF’s value proposition which includes inclusivity, diversity, sustainability and make it about a movement.”

Diversity, inclusion and private funding are buzz words that perk up government ears, particularly when it comes to spending taxpayer money.

Originally the Hamilton100 bid proposed an operating budget of around $1.5 billion (CDN).

But that has been trimmed to around $1 billion, about the same cost of the Birmingham Games with, according to Frapporti, the private sector kicking in between $250 to $500 million.

“What differentiates the Games framework at this point is a very significant amount of private sector investment around the delivery of infrastructure assets,” said Frapporti.

The biggest infrastructure project in the Hamilton bid would be the construction of an athletes village, which under current plans would be privately delivered.

The private sector would also be responsible for renovating the FirstOntario Centre in downtown Hamilton and contribute to the building of a state-of-the-art cricket facility.

Otherwise, the bid leans heavily on existing facilities across what is known as the ‘Golden Horseshoe’ such as the velodrome in nearby Milton built for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The bid will also make use of one of the world’s natural wonders with Niagara Falls providing the backdrop for beach volleyball.

“To the extent the Commonwealth Games aspires to be the ‘Olympics light’ there is no path to success doing that,” said Frapporti. “What we sought to do is embrace those values and opportunities which actually truly differentiate the sport so very much around inclusivity.”

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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