Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Commonwealth Games Federation


  1.  The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is responsible for the direction of and control of the Commonwealth Games. The Federation is the supreme authority in all matters concerning the Commonwealth Games. The vision is to promote a unique, friendly world class Games every four years. It is also to develop sport for the benefit of the peoples, the nations and the territories of the Commonwealth, and thereby strengthen the Commonwealth. At present, 72 Commonwealth Games Associations (CGA) are affiliated to the Federation, including seven from the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man).

  2.  The next Commonwealth Games will be held in Manchester from 25 July to 4 August 2002.

  3.  The Federation was grateful for the invitation to give evidence to the Committee, and the Chairman, Michael Fennell, and past Honorary Secretary, the late David Dixon, were examined on 25 March 1999. The comments in this memorandum supplement the evidence provided then, in the light of the preparations for the 2002 Games.


  4.  The level of support from the UK Government has been impressive. There is little doubt that the personal support of the Prime Minister has been extremely helpful to the Organising Committee.

  5.  The establishment of the Commonwealth Ministerial Task Force, chaired by Rt Hon Ian McCartney MP, Minister for State at the Cabinet Office, involving Ministers and Officials from all relevant UK Government Departments is very welcome. It gives the Federation confidence that the UK Government is committed to assisting the Organising Committee to deliver a successful event. It also ensures there is a single, authoritative point of access to the Government.

  6.  The financial support provided towards the cost of providing the Opening and Closing Ceremonies is appreciated.


  7.  Although to the outsider (and probably also to the insider) the organisation of British Sport is complex and confusing, it has caused the Federation little difficulty so far. The roles of the three main agencies with which the Federation deals (Government Departments, UK Sport and Sport England) appear well defined in respect of the Commonwealth Games, and the Federation has found representatives of all three to be helpful, co-operative and committed to ensuring a successful Games.


  8.  The National Lottery funding has made a massive difference to the funding of facilities for major international sports events in the UK. The Federation is confident that the sporting venues for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester will be excellent, and will prove a great advertisement for Britain's ability to provide world class sporting facilities. Although it is no concern of the Federation's, it is a pity that the difficulties surrounding the National Stadium, and the venue for the World Athletics Championships have detracted from this perception.

  9.  The Federation believes that the current arrangements for underwriting the funding of international sports events in the UK could be improved. For virtually every Commonwealth Games outside the UK, the underwriting authority is either the National or State Government. The Federation believes that financial risk discourages a significant number of UK cities from bidding seriously for major international sports events. The Federation concludes that the UK Government should be the underwriter of last resort for this type of event.

  10.  If the UK wishes to become a serious contender for hosting major sporting events, there has to be a change of attitude in the country. At present, the image promoted in the press of any major event in the UK is of a squabble over how much it costs. These events are expensive to organise and manage, but there are massive economic, social and legacy benefits that accrue to the nation if an event is successful. It is important that the Government plays a robust role in promoting this message.

  11.  One further disadvantage of the British arrangement where the Local Authority underwrites the cost of a major international event is that this tends to encourage regional parochialism. The Commonwealth Games in 2002 was awarded to England, and the view in Commonwealth countries is that they are England's Games. However, the perception in the UK, for reasons that are perfectly understandable, is that they are Manchester's Games. Again the Government has a role to play here, although the Federation does recognise the paradox that it is difficult for the UK Government to trumpet "England's Games". However, the Government has handled the situation sensitively so far, and the Federation has no difficulty with the Government justifying its involvement as the Games are being hosted "within Britain".


  12.  A CGF Evaluation Team visited Manchester from 13 November to 15 November 2000. The purpose of the visit was to evaluate the progress on the preparation for the Games, and also to provide specialist advice and assistance to the M2002 team. It should be stressed that the visit was one of partnership and not inquisition.

  13.  Overall, the team was impressed and encouraged by what it heard. It was satisfied that the M2002 team has identified the main challenges, and is adopting a professional approach to overcoming them. The clear evidence that a huge amount was learned from the Olympic Games in Sydney is particularly heartening.

  14.  A number of experts who have specialist knowledge of specific "big Games" operations are being brought into the M2002 operation. It is vital that the knowledge these people bring with them is captured while they are in the UK for use in future events. It is unlikely that M2002 will have the time or resources to do this, but if this is not done in a structured way, it will represent a massive missed opportunity.

  15.  Of course, the Games are only 19 months away, and so much remains to be done. The timescale in many operating areas is very tight, and there are significant pressures on both human and financial resources. However, on the evidence of this visit, the Federation believes that there is good reason to be confident that M2002 are well on the way to deliver an excellent Games for Manchester, England, UK, and the Commonwealth.

December 2000

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