Duncan Mackay ©ITG

A month ago the entire future of the Commonwealth Games appeared in serious danger after Durban were stripped of the 2022 edition of the event. 

Many people predicted it would be a struggle to find a new city willing to take on the Games at such short notice and newspaper columnists dismissed it as an irrelevant relic from the British Empire which no-one cared about any longer. 

Then something wonderfully unexpected happened. 

Instead of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) having to go cap in hand for someone to stage their event they begun to be overwhelmed by cities offering to step in.

Liverpool, Birmingham, Perth, Toronto, Singapore, New Delhi, London, Sydney, Manchester...the list just kept on growing. 

From suddenly facing the greatest crisis in the organisation's 85-year history, the CGF now have a great opportunity to secure the Games' future for the foreseeable future, especially as bidders are also already lining up for 2030. 

England are the clear favourites to replace South Africa as the hosts in 2022, especially after today's announcement from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport  that the UK Government wants to back a bid. 

The 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester were so successful that the city wants to host them again 2022 ©Getty Images
The 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester were so successful that the city wants to host them again 2022 ©Getty Images

Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Manchester all appear serious about hosting the event and, with the Government effectively underwriting the bid, England will be hard to beat.

They will be even stronger if Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester could be persuaded to join forces and create a "Northern Powerhouse" bid. With a bit of relatively modest investment, the three cities would have everything needed to stage a successful event and all are fairly accessible to the other. 

At the moment all three, driven by civic pride, want to go it alone but these are early days. The level of support from the Government will be a huge determining factor. 

It could be that none of the cities outside England who initially said they wanted to replace Durban take their interest any further. 

It doesn't matter.

The perception has been created already that the Commonwealth Games remains an event cities are interested in staging.

It is a situation that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can only dream about these days.

The withdrawal of Hamburg, Rome and Budapest from the bid process for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games has meant that only Los Angeles and Paris remain. 

The talk that there is no longer interest in hosting an event which, for decades, has been an aspiration for nearly every established and emerging city seems to have spooked IOC President Thomas Bach so much he has embarked on his plan to award both 2024 and 2028 Olympics together at the Session in Lima on September 13.

A proposal by IOC President Thomas Bach for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics to be awarded together to Paris and Los Angeles has lit a fire under the campaign ©Paris 2024
A proposal by IOC President Thomas Bach for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics to be awarded together to Paris and Los Angeles has lit a fire under the campaign ©Paris 2024

Bach's proposal has had a couple of consequences he probably did not foresee.

If the idea was to reassure both Los Angeles and Paris that they could take their foot off the accelerator, confident in the knowledge that they would each be staging the Olympics, France in 2024, the United States in 2028, it has backfired.

It seems instead to have lit a bonfire under the campaign. 

The German has created the belief that even if both Games are awarded together, then the city given 2028 will be viewed as the loser - which no-one wants to be seen as. 

Los Angeles have notably stepped up their campaign since this talk of 2024/2028 started to gather momentum. A few months ago, everyone I spoke too - even in California - admitted they were trialing Paris. Now the gap is closing fast. 

Most people now believe it is too close to call.

We shouldn't be surprised that Los Angeles were not prepared to just sit back and let Paris be awarded 2024 without a contest.

Casey Wasserman, the Los Angeles 2024 chairman, is one of the world's leading sports agents with a portfolio of clients that are among the most recognisable in sport. He is surrounded by winners. 

As the former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly used to say: "If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing."

For former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, the only position that counted was first ©Getty Images
For former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, the only position that counted was first ©Getty Images

The other consequence of Bach's proposal is that everyone is talking about 2028, not 2024.

The question that Wasserman and Tony Estanguet, co-chairman of the Paris 2024 bid, probably get asked most often these days is: "Do you want to host 2028?" 

Any answer other than they are focused solely on 2024 would immediately be taken as a sign of weakness. 

And Estanguet, as a triple Olympic canoeing gold medallist, is just as much a winner as Wasserman. 

Really, though, nothing should have changed from the start of this campaign nearly two years ago. 

When the IOC vote for the 2024 host city at its Session in Lima they should still be picking the best choice to host the Olympics that year. 2024. 2028 should not even be a consideration. 

Bach, though, is slowly cannibalising his own brand. 

He would have been better to raise earlier in the process that there was a chance both 2024 and 2028 could be awarded together or waited until after the decision in September before beginning discreet negotiations with the losing city. 

The Olympic Games remains a fantastic product. 

Of course, there are major problems with the bid process, too many citizens in major cities associate the event with extravagant excess, it needs to be streamlined to make it more flexible and some members of the Olympic Movement need to take a reality check about how important they really are. 

At its core, though, the Olympics remains an event which engages the world's population every two years like nothing else on the planet. 

Bach needs to have more faith in it. 

Perhaps, like the Commonwealth Games, he might be pleasantly surprised at the response he receives.