Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games
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Commonwealth Games open to athletes taking a knee

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The Commonwealth Games, the biggest summer multi-sport competition outside of the Olympics (that doesn’t include the United States), could allow athlete activism, such as taking a knee, at its next edition in 2022 in Birmingham, Great Britain.

Commonwealth Games CEO David Grevemberg was asked Thursday if an athlete who kneels two years from now would be punished.

He did not directly answer yes or no, but he cited “the profound impact” of sprinter Cathy Freeman, who carried the Australian and Aboriginal flags when she won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 1994 in Victoria, British Columbia.

Freeman, of Aboriginal descent, did the same as the face of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, bringing attention to the nation’s indigenous people.

“How do we get that balance right, what that means, and how can we work with athletes to ensure that their platform and their voice is heard?” Grevemberg said. “What that looks like on the field of play, I would say right now I wouldn’t want to be presumptuous in terms of going through that consultation, what athletes want, what are we able to accomplish, but I do think we are in a very, very unique place in the world right now, and I think there are some unique opportunities to really expand our views on this. I would have to say I think that conversation is critical. We need to find solutions, not build walls, but build bridges right now.”

The Commonwealth Games include athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations, notably Australia, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa and those that make up Great Britain at the Olympics — England, Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland (whose athletes can represent Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympics). Most of the sports are also in the Olympics, but some are not, such as lawn bowls.

On Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC Athletes’ Commission will talk with athletes around the world to explore how Olympians can express themselves at the Games while keeping the Olympic Charter in mind.

Grevemberg also emphasized discussion.

“We are comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation,” he said. “We need to embrace that.

“I think the Black Lives Matter movement is actually challenging all institutions to really look introspectively at what we can do to be more fair, more free, have better equality.

“It’s been something that we had a lot of questions on in terms of why are you politicizing sport? Actually, we’re humanizing the conversation. We’re giving people the opportunity to express freedom of expression, freedom of association, but we also have some very strong policies on non-discrimination and respect and so forth. People say, ‘Aren’t you opening up the Pandora’s box, the floodgates?’ No, we are respecting people’s rights to voice their opinions and so forth.”

Two Olympics — in Tokyo in 2021 and Beijing in 2022 — will take place before the next Commonwealth Games.

“I don’t want us to be too prescriptive at this point in time because this is a real moving dialogue,” Grevemberg said. “I think it would be too presumptuous of me to say this is how it’s going to look.”

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Commonwealth Games compromise may put shooting events in India

Commonwealth Games shooting
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The Commonwealth Games may be headed toward a compromise with shooting-sport advocates and the Indian Olympic Association in which shooting events would be held several months and more than 4,000 miles away from the rest of the events.

Organizers in Birmingham, England, which will host the Games from July 27 to Aug. 7, omitted shooting sports from the program, claiming a lack of space. Beach volleyball, para table tennis and women’s cricket have been added.

READ: Women’s cricket added as boycott threat looms

India, which has traditionally done well in Commonwealth Games shooting events, balked at the omission and threatened a boycott. The solution now on the table is to hold the events in India with all events counting toward the Commonwealth Games medal table. India may also host archery, another event that didn’t make the cut for the Games.

“After a year of negotiations between the ISSF and the leadership of the Commonwealth Games Federation, a solution that will finally resolve the issues surrounding the Commonwealth Games 2022 has been found,” the International Shooting Sport Federation announced.

Commonwealth Games organizers released a more cautious but still optimistic statement.

“The proposal will be reviewed and considered in January and February by the CGF and discussed with Birmingham 2022 Delivery Partners,” the Commonwealth Games Federation said. “(W)e would like to thank the CGI (Commonwealth Games India), the NRAI (National Rifle Association of India), the Government of India and the entire sporting community of India for their leadership and significant efforts taken to submit an innovative proposal with the ambition of strengthening Commonwealth Sport.”

India would pay roughly 20 million pounds ($26.24 million) to host the events, The Guardian reported.

The Commonwealth Games program is similar to the Olympic program but omits several traditional events such as water polo, canoe/kayak, equestrian, fencing, soccer, modern pentathlon and rowing. Newer sports such as surfing, sailing and sport climbing also aren’t on the program, while unique Commonwealth sports such as lawn bowls and netball are included.

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Leader collapses near finish of Commonwealth Games marathon

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GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — One of the most dramatic scenes at the Commonwealth Games came early on the final day.

Callum Hawkins of Scotland was leading the marathon Sunday morning when he became physically distressed and collapsed with about two kilometers remaining (video here). Michael Shelley ran past and defended his title.

Hawkins, who had about a two-minute lead over Shelley, first became disoriented in the humid conditions at about the 38-kilometer mark of the 42.2-kilometer race, briefly holding himself up next to a race barrier to try to regain his balance.

He was able to continue, despite having difficulty running in a straight line, but fell to the road two kilometers later and — after several minutes — received medical attention as Shelley raced past him on the course.

“I wasn’t sure what was going on. I had a couple of mates (in the crowd) who said Callum was in a bit of trouble. They told me to keep going and gave me encouragement,” Shelley said. “I just tried to hang on.”

Hawkins was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance for testing and Scotland team officials said “there are no major concerns for his welfare at this stage.”

The team passed along a message from Hawkins while the Closing Ceremony was underway, saying “Thanks for all your messages of support today and to the Gold Coast University Hospital staff. I am now feeling much better.”

Television commentators were critical and there was backlash on social media because of the delay getting medical assistance to Hawkins, particularly after a security official tried to move away spectators who were attempting to help the stricken Hawkins.

Shelley finished in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds.

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