For Pete’s sake, why are the Commonwealth Games still a thing?

Other than keeping Peter Beattie out from under our feet, is there a reason the Commonwealth Games are still a thing? Im not snarking. Im genuinely curious. The cost of running them means that few of Britains former colonial possessions can afford to play host. Since 1930, the Games have been held outside the metropolitan core of the Commonwealth only three times, in Kuala Lumpur, Delhi and Kingston, Jamaica. Otherwise its been a long list of stolid, white wealthy settler cities.

They get a boost to infrastructure, which might otherwise be a hard sell to budget-conscious bean counters. The Queen, or nowadays Charles and Cammie, get a long weekend away for the opening ceremony. And Australia gets to play at being a sporting superpower.

At least the Commonwealth Games has given Peter Beattie something to do.

Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP

The competition, especially in the pool, but more generally across those events where countries boasting of an advanced technological base also enjoy outsize advantages, is lopsided. Thats not to say its second rate. A few world records will get a nudge. But given the disparities between the rich, white Commonwealth, and the vast majority of its inhabitants, theres something a little off about the perennial triumphalism of carrying away truckloads of gold.

Jamaicas sprinters, Indias wrestlers and Kenyas long distance champions probably get some benefit from competing in a high quality but slightly less frenzied atmosphere a couple of years out from the next Olympics, but for most of the countries which marched out under that big floaty whale on opening night, the whole gig must seem a bit off.

Its been good watching the para-athletes do their thing as part of the main event; more inspiring in many ways than seeing a conventionally elite performer come out of their super advanced, scientifically honed training regime to shave a hundredth of a second off some other superheros record. As a bloke who struggles to swim the length of a short council pool, Im in literal awe of somebody who can tear up an Olympic pool despite missing a limb or two.

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