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The Irony of Inclusivity?

Commonwealth Games

The Irony of Inclusivity!

So, after India threatens to boycott the Commonwealth Games, the officials negotiate and buckle down to a deal where India will host the archery and shooting events and pay the bills.

The host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games is Birmingham in the UK. The Executive Board of the Games decided to be more inclusive by including women's cricket, beach volleyball and para table tennis into the Games programme for the Birmingham Games. But this was at the detriment of archery and shooting.

At the time, the CEO the Birmingham Games stated: "Our recommendation of adding women's cricket, beach volleyball and Para table tennis is the result of a thorough review, and we believe these sports would help us to enhance the existing programme and reach new audiences while showcasing the sports to our local community, spectators and fans across the world, watching on TV."

"It's also a selection that could help ensure that the 2022 Commonwealth Games will be the most inclusive in history, with a potential for the largest ever para-sports programme and more female medallists than ever before, representing a great story not just for Birmingham 2022, but for women's sport in general," he added.

India which has traditionally been very strong in the event, winning 16 medals in the 2018 Games including 7 Golds threatened to boycott the Games. Shooting has been included in every edition apart from one since 1966. And behold after tense negotiations they found a compromise by holding the two events in Chandigarh six months before the actual Games. The medals tally will count towards the overall Games total. India will pay for these two events.

If this happened a couple of decades ago, India would probably not win the argument, nor would have the funds to pay for it. But with its growing clout globally, the might of Indian confidence can make demands. But what is astonishing is how certain events can be just dropped, and others added without thoroughly examining the impact on people.

Hard choices have to be made, but it is an unjust system where a country's advantage of medals expectation in a particular sport is deleted by officials without fully understanding the consequences. And while India now has the resources to circumvent the disadvantage, what about the smaller countries who do not have such a backup, nor the political clout to demand changes that would benefit them?

If the Commonwealth Games and Birmingham 2022 is all about inclusivity, this is not the way to illustrate it. Let us hope that the smaller nations are not disadvantaged in the name of inclusivity.

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