Comm games medallist backs calls for event to be scrapped

December 1, 2023 BY

No go: Simon Orchard won two Commonwealth Gold Medals in the hockey field. Photo: SIMON COOPER/ PA/ ALAMY

IS it time for the Commonwealth Games to be permanently removed from the international sporting calendar?

With the fallout continuing from the Victorian’s Government decision to back out of hosting the event in 2026, many have questioned its future within the international sporting landscape.

Despite being a raging success in years gone past, public and media interest has dwindled from the last two events.

The declining interest along with a significant cost to host the games saw then Premier Daniel Andrews cancel his state’s hosting rights, leaving the event in purgatory just over two years away from the proposed start.

With no secured future for the next two games, Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has publicly declared her interest in putting on a ‘coast-to-coast’ event, with Gold Coast and Perth as the two host cities.

Despite this, former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Simon Orchard admitted he would be in favour of the event being permanently scrapped.

“It’s a great nursery for younger athletes to develop ahead of an Olympic games,” Orchard said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“But I can’t help but say I think it’s past its prime and it’s time to go for the Commonwealth Games, that’s my thought.

“I’ve got two [Commonwealth Games gold medals] and this isn’t me big-noting but that’s not what I go to first.

“Not that I’m a big spruiker of my own horn but that’s not what I lead with if I tell people what I achieve, that’s for sure.”

Although Orchard said he believes the game’s time is up, he revealed his confidence in the Reinhart-backed proposal to be a success in 2026.

“I reckon it’s a great way to capture two totally different audiences, I know Basil Zempilas [Perth mayor] is big on this, he would absolutely love it,” Orchard said.

“Perth has a new hockey stadium going in, they can host [that], Gold Coast is a party town, I’d be putting my hand up to get a media ticket.

“I think it can definitely work, if Gina Reinhart is adamant that she can put the money in I’m not going to stop because I know there’s a lot of people who still enjoy it.”