Organisers of the Commonwealth Games have urged the governing bodies of athletics and swimming to find a way to ensure that Dina Asher-Smith, Adam Peaty and Katarina Johnson-Thompson can still compete in 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 the 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.
The Guardian understands that a letter sent by the Commonwealth Games Federation to World Athletics on Wednesday 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 that 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 Athletics Championships scheduled for Eugene in August 2021.
The Guardian further understands that 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 that both events thrive. Birmingham 2022 is expected to be the biggest sporting event 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 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, England 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.”