Com­mon­wealth Games chiefs want cal­en­dar fix to free up Team GB stars

The Guardian - - Sport - Ex­clu­sive Sean In­gle

The Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion has urged the gov­ern­ing bod­ies of ath­let­ics and swim­ming to find a way to en­sure Dina Asher-Smith, Adam Peaty and Kata­rina John­son-Thomp­son can com­pete at Birm­ing­ham 2022 even if the global sport­ing cal­en­dar is rad­i­cally al­tered, the Guardian can re­veal.

There are un­der­stand­able fears that Bri­tain’s top names could miss out on a home Commonweal­ths if the post­pone­ment of the Olympic Games to 2021 leads to World Ath­let­ics and Fina, the gov­ern­ing body of swim­ming, mov­ing their re­spec­tive world cham­pi­onships sched­uled for the sum­mer of 2021 to 2022 in­stead.

That could lead to ath­letes such as Asher-Smith and Peaty be­ing forced to choose be­tween com­pet­ing in front of packed home crowds with large BBC au­di­ences at Birm­ing­ham 2022 – or go­ing to world cham­pi­onships in the US and Ja­pan re­spec­tively that would be more pres­ti­gious glob­ally but would not be shown on prime-time TV in the UK.

It is un­der­stood a let­ter sent by the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion to World Ath­let­ics yes­ter­day says it is fully committed to stag­ing an ex­cep­tional Games in Birm­ing­ham be­tween 27 July and 7 Au­gust – on what will be the 10th an­niver­sary of the Lon­don Olympics – but that it also wants the best ath­letes to be there.

The let­ter also makes clear it is ready to work col­lab­o­ra­tively on any po­ten­tial changes that may be re­quired to the ath­let­ics cal­en­dar as a re­sult of the Olympic Games be­ing moved, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the world cham­pi­onships sched­uled for Eu­gene in Au­gust 2021.

It is also un­der­stood the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion says its pri­or­ity is to work closely with World Ath­let­ics to en­sure the very best Com­mon­wealth ath­letes on the world stage – which it fully an­tic­i­pates be­ing an­other fan­tas­tic show­case for track and field.

The hope on each side is that a res­o­lu­tion can be found to en­sure both events thrive.

Birm­ing­ham 2022 is ex­pected to be one of the big­gest sport­ing events in Bri­tain since Lon­don 2012 and it is also known that Seb Coe, the pres­i­dent of World Ath­let­ics, is a big fan of the Com­mon­wealth Games hav­ing run his last ma­jor race as an ath­lete in 1990 at the event.

The Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion did not con­firm or deny send­ing the letters. It did, how­ever, point to a state­ment by its chief ex­ec­u­tive, David Grevem­berg, in which he said: “We re­main fully committed to host­ing a suc­cess­ful Com­mon­wealth Games in Birm­ing­ham dur­ing 2022.

“Over the com­ing weeks, we will con­tinue to work col­lab­o­ra­tively with In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion part­ners to en­sure the XXII Com­mon­wealth Games main­tains its po­si­tion and stature on the global sport­ing cal­en­dar.”

▲ Dina Asher-Smith may be forced to choose be­tween ma­jor cham­pi­onships

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