The debate sparks a wider conversation about the Commonwealth Games more generally; on their role and their value in the world of sport. The truth is that while the Olympics are the greatest spectacle on earth, the Commies are a bit of a “village fete” by comparison. It’s always world-class athletes competing in Birmingham, of course. Most of them anyway. But there’s a reason Bolt has only appeared once in his career for a 4x100m relay. Athletics without the Americans? Gymnastics without the Russians or the Chinese or the Japanese or the Eastern Europeans? The Commonwealths are not the pinnacle of these sports.
And it’s good. The Games are a celebration of our relationship with these nations; an opportunity for athletes to gain experience; compete for an international title; for athletes from their home country to compete for their home country. Some sports, such as hockey, have many of the world’s strongest countries in the Commonwealth. Others don’t. There is no need to be overly sensitive about any of this or try to disguise the Games as something they are not.
The BBC is probably not helping itself in this regard. The fact that they own the rights means they show wall-to-wall grass balls on the red button and talk about team table tennis as if it were the biggest event in the world. It annoys people who ask where they were during the world championships. Personally, I enjoy all the quirks, the randomness, the fact that you never really know who will be in great shape and who won’t. But to dismiss Peaty for stating facts is ridiculous.