Michael Pavitt

It has been an interesting couple of weeks for organisers of the Munich 2022 European Championships, the second edition of the multi-sport event.

Organisers confirmed in April that the PGA European Tour and Ladies European Tour had decided to withdraw from the event, citing scheduling challenges.

The decision to withdraw golf could potentially be associated with the coronavirus crisis, as so much is currently.

The news came just days after European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley warned the circuit could look "profoundly different" in the coming years.

Given that the European Team Golf Championships debuted at the multi-sport event in Glasgow and Berlin in 2018, I could imagine it would have been one of the competitions which was easiest to cut from a future schedule.

Personally, I did not think the withdrawal of the golf event was a major loss, with my impression from Glasgow that it was a nice competition to have but lacked the star names and prestige compared to other sports on the programme.

Organisers of the 2022 European Championships said they were "surprised and disappointed" by the decision, noting that golf had been an "enthusiastic supporter of the concept."

The news came just two months after organisers had confirmed that Golf Club Valley had been selected as host of the event.

It appeared another blow for the second edition of the multi-sport competition, with the fellowship of seven European Federations which combined for the first edition having already splintered off to five.

The decision from European Swimming Federation (LEN) to hold its European Aquatics Championships separately in Rome, purportedly due to facilities in Munich being "not sufficient", was a bigger blow for the event.

I suspect organisers would have hoped athletics, cycling, gymnastics and swimming could serve as the heart of the European Championships, and that the remaining sports could drop in and out depending on suitable facilities and the appetite of the local population for their event.

Aquatics absence from the multi-sport concept has been a blow for the European Championships ©Getty Images
Aquatics absence from the multi-sport concept has been a blow for the European Championships ©Getty Images

The aquatics scenario is an interesting one, with both the European Championships and LEN's separate event in Rome scheduled to take place from August 11 to 21.

The dates might initially seem an issue, with the events potentially competing for a time schedule. Yet with the European Broadcasting Union working with both LEN and the European Championships this scenario seems unlikely to arise.

The dates instead appear to give the window for LEN to reattach itself to the "European Championships" brand should it choose to do so. While it would not be ideal to have multiple hosts, Berlin and Glasgow proved it could be possible to achieve this should the desire be there.

Even if LEN opts against doing so, I wonder whether viewers would simply make the assumption that the European Aquatics Championships are incorporated as part of the wider multi-sport package anyway.

However, the loss of golf and one of the marquee sports in swimming did begin to raise questions over whether what appeared to be the start of a successful concept would ultimately become a flash in the pan.

Then came the news from organisers that the Munich City Council had agreed to include between three and four new sports for the event. This could bolster the line-up from a potential drop of the five sports of athletics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon to an increase to a possible nine.

The European Canoe Association has since announced, potentially jumping the gun, that it has agreed to become part of the event. Beach volleyball, sport climbing and table tennis are believed to be among the other sports potentially set to join the party.

International Table Tennis Federation President Thomas Weikert expressed last year that his sport could split from the European Games to join the rival multi-sport European Championships after viewing the concept more favourably.

Canoe sprint is one of four sports that could be added ©Getty Images
Canoe sprint is one of four sports that could be added ©Getty Images

Potential additions of canoe sprint and table tennis would make sense due to Germany’s hosting of the event, with the country having enjoyed success in both recently.

The German team finished second on the medals table at the 2018 Canoe Sprint European Championships, while the country boasts the reigning men’s European team champions in table tennis.

It is an obvious observation to make, but if you want eyes focused on your event the best way of achieving that is through having strong performances from the home team.

As mentioned after the inaugural event in 2018, the package of sports had a Western European feel with the event seemingly catered for the audience rather than forcing a fixed programme upon a host nation.

Should the four suggested sports be officially confirmed on the programme, it would highlight flexibility as being one of the strengths of the concept.

My mind was drawn to the European Championships being in the crosshairs when International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said last month that there was a need to "look more closely into the proliferation of sports events", with the multi-sport event having previously attracted the ire of Olympic Movement officials for rivalling the European Games.

I wonder whether flexibility regarding the number and make-up of the sports for the European Championships concept could serve as an advantage for the event in the post-coronavirus landscape.

With hosts having increasingly become hard to come by before the pandemic, could the streamlined and adaptable European Championships prove a more attractive model for countries going forwards?

Amid the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis, the European Championships could be an interesting story to watch regarding the future of the event itself but how its format could potentially offer a different way of running major sporting events going forwards.