Exclusive: Fewer athletes at Commonwealth Games is not to limit medal haul of top nations, insists CGF boss
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
March 14 - A move to reduce athlete numbers in certain events at the Commonwealth Games, starting at Glasgow 2014, is not an attempt to stop the likes of Australia dominating the medal table, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Mike Hooper (pictured) has claimed.
During the CGF General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis in November, it was decided that individual swimming events will see athlete numbers reduced from three per nation to two per nation following recommendations from the CGF Sports Review Committee.
The move will come into play for the first time in Glasgow and it is set to limit the amount of medals won by the nations that traditionally dominate the competition.
However, the CGF chief executive claimed that limiting the medal haul of the top nations was never mentioned in the decision making process.
"We are looking to align with international federations as a principle and that is what we are doing here," Hooper told insidethegames.
"It is an example of us focusing on what is written in the CGF Constitution about the sporting programme and this move comes following a recommendation of our Sports Committee.
"It is not correct to say to that this was a move to limit the medal haul of the top nations.
"That was never discussed."
The move had been criticised by some high-profile figures, including Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) chief Perry Crosswhite, who said he believed the two-per-nation idea was proposed with Australia in mind.
"I think there's been a concerted effort over time to limit our medals," he told The Australian newspaper.
"This review came out of Delhi because the Federation [CGF] is trying to see what it can do to see that that kind of thing [India's chaotic preparation to host the Games] doesn't happen again.
"I think they are trying to keep down overall athlete numbers because they continue to grow and that makes things more expensive.
"Then the minute you talk about athlete numbers people talk about one nation winning all three medals in an event.
"In Delhi, I think Australia did it once [in the women's 200 metres breaststroke], England did it about three times and India a couple of times, so it's not a big problem.
"But at different times it's been aimed at us because since 1990 we have done very well and they are looking to cut down the medals Australia is winning.
"We want it to remain at three per nation because we will get fuller fields and better athletes.
"We are happy with the current situation because the role of the Commonwealth Games in Australia is to develop younger athletes and the third athlete tends to be a young athlete."
However, New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) secretary general Kereyn Smith said her organisation favoured the modification due to the fact that it ensures the event follows a similar path to the Olympics.
"We think the change is a positive one," she said.
"The Commonwealth Games are an important step on the Olympic pathway for many athletes, including swimmers and track and field athletes.
"Ensuring the competition is run at the Commonwealth Games in the same way it is at the Olympic Games is sensible."
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