Over the last two months, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has been reviewing a proposal from Commonwealth Games India (CGI) to host a Commonwealth Archery and Shooting Championships in Chandigarh in January 2022.
This proposal was considered and discussed with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Partners, prior to the CGF Executive Board making a final decision at a meeting in London, which took place from February 21 to 23.
At every stage, the discussions held were extremely robust, with strong views on all sides. Key considerations for the CGF were, to provide world-class opportunities for athletes to compete in Commonwealth archery and shooting competitions, strengthening our partnership with India for the future and innovating the way we showcase Commonwealth Sport, while at the same time, protecting the interests and obligations of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
When a final decision was made, I felt confident we had reached the best solution for the Commonwealth Sports Movement.
It is very important to clarify exactly what this event in India will be, particularly following some speculative reporting that may have created confusion.
For accuracy, there will be no direct link between Birmingham 2022 and Chandigarh 2022 as this is not a co-hosting arrangement.
The events will be recognised as two separately organised and funded Commonwealth Sport championships. There will be two individual medal tables, one for Chandigarh 2022 and one for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Chandigarh 2022 will present Commonwealth Archery and Shooting Championships medals and produce a medal table at the end of the event. Six months later, the 2022 Commonwealth Games will be held in Birmingham with Commonwealth Games medals being awarded.
One week following the Closing Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the CGF shall issue a medal table that includes results from the Chandigarh 2022 Commonwealth Archery and Shooting Championships, as a further and final legitimate ranking of competing nations and territories from the respective competitions.
A license agreement, similar to a Host City Contract for a Commonwealth Games, will also be put in place with Chandigarh 2022 which provides the required commercial protections and ensures that Chandigarh 2022 cannot imply an association with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
At this point, I acknowledge that there are several queries on how and why we have taken this innovative approach.
One of the most frequently asked is: “Was this decision made due to the threat of an Indian withdrawal from the Commonwealth Games?”
The answer here is definitively - no!
At their Annual General Meeting in December 2019, the Indian Olympic Association membership and Indian sporting community unanimously confirmed their participation at Birmingham 2022 prior to any further discussion or engagement related to Commonwealth Sport. The innovative proposal to host Archery and Shooting events was received in early January 2020. The proposal would not have ever been considered if any kind of ultimatum existed and was not presented in a spirit of friendship and innovation for the benefit of athletes and sport within the Commonwealth.
Following a CGF visit to India in November 2019, we have been working closely with India to re-engage in our common interests to grow and develop Commonwealth Sport. We all recognise the importance of having India, the most populous country in the Commonwealth, both engaged and active within the Movement and this is a positive initiative for us all.
What does this mean for the future of Commonwealth Sport? I believe that this event has the potential to set an exciting precedent for the future already aligned to our priorities in Transformation 2022. Chandigarh 2022 is an innovative model that can promote and encourage the development and hosting of sport throughout other countries in the Commonwealth. We know that Host Cities are increasingly looking towards co-hosting models to build connections beyond sport with other countries and to support or offset the scale and cost of the event.
Our Transformation 2022 Strategy outlines the need to innovate and create new Commonwealth Sport properties. By looking at innovation around the Movement’s properties in the future, we can provide greater opportunities for athletes to compete as well as more possibilities for other Commonwealth countries to host and invest in Commonwealth Sport than ever before.
Why are these Championships important to Commonwealth archers and shooters? The CGF have sanctioned the event to support Commonwealth athletes who compete in these two sports and to establish an unpresented recognition from both a sport-specific perspective and Movement-wide perspective. The event is fully recognised by the two International Federations - World Archery and the International Shooting Sport Federation - and will for the first time in Commonwealth archery and shooting competition have results that will count for rankings and records from the respective International Federations. It was important that the results from these events are legitimately and appropriately recognised and therefore the CGF has developed a further, aggregate medal table concept to celebrate these events taking place in 2022. The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and the Government of India have committed to covering the costs of the competition, further demonstrating their commitment to Commonwealth athletes and sport.
Commonwealth archery and shooting athletes now have an opportunity to compete in an elite event that will showcase the very best of Commonwealth Sport and add value to the Commonwealth Sports Movement through its innovation and bridge building. I would like to thank CGI President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sport Kiren Rijiju and NRAI President Raninder Singh for their leadership with this proposal. I would also like to thank the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Partners for supporting our approach.
With Chandigarh 2022 and Birmingham 2022 now in place, we are set for an exciting and truly unprecedented year for Commonwealth Sport and I am confident that our Movement has a bright and proud future.