Commonwealth Games 2022 ticket sales defy low-profile start

Commonwealth Games 2022 ticket sales defy low-profile start

As the Commonwealth bloc grapple with its past and its future and its connection to the British Empire, the diversity of more than 5000 athletes from 72 countries competing in 19 sports and eight para-sports will be a key feature of the Games starting on July 28 .

Dame Louise Martin, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, has said herself that the event has been in an existential crisis for the last decade.

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“In recent times, our federation has done a lot of soul-searching to look at our impact and meaning,” she said in 2018. “The Commonwealth Sport Movement reached a challenging chapter in its existence – when the very word and purpose of the ‘Commonwealth’ was questioned and the negative impacts of a Games on a host community were highlighted.”

The body’s new strategic document makes it clear: “There is no easy way of saying the Commonwealth has a challenging history linked to colonial roots. Work has already started to alter the focus from the hegemony of the British Empire to one of global peace.”

The biggest multi-sport event to be held in the UK since the London 2012 Olympics, organizers say the Commonwealth Games have captured the imagination of the city, with about 41,000 people applying for 14,000 volunteer roles.

Maintaining a social justice theme, organizers plan to directly challenge the participating nations which still outlaw homosexuality with the establishment of a Pride House. There are 35 Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is illegal, 13 of which punish homosexual acts with imprisonment or the death penalty.

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Martin Green, chief creative officer of Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, said that it would be referenced in the opening ceremony directly.

“We also need to remember that there is a debate about the extent of which legislation is actually an export of the [British] Empire,” Green said. “So we need to be careful of about where all this came from, but I’m pleased to say this is a celebratory and inclusive show that isn’t frightened of having some serious conversations.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the next fortnight was an “incredibly exciting and genuinely celebratory moment” for the city, with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to promote the region.

Local leaders hope the massive audience people expected to watch the games will help boost Brand Birmingham, building on the global success of hit TV show Peaky Blinders, which is set in the city. The West Midlands combined authority estimates the games in Birmingham will be worth £1 billion ($1.7 billion) to the regional economy.

“The Commonwealth Games allows us to shine a spotlight like never before on the West Midlands and share our positive spirit with the world,” Street said.

“It has always been my intention that the impact of these Games goes far beyond the 11 days of thrilling sporting spectacle, and it’s already clear that the Games will result in an important legacy in terms of infrastructure, jobs and skills and, of course, a wider sense of community togetherness.”

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