Commonwealth Games 10 years on: Lessons for the Olympics

The Velodrome and the Etihad stadium are two legacies of Manchester’s successful 2002 Commonwealth Games bid

With the Olympics only a couple of days away, and the 10th anniversary of the start of the Commonwealth Games today, I got to thinking about the similarities between the two events.

Now, the general opinion of the Commonwealth Games is that they were a great success. A state of the art Football Stadium producing Premiership winning football, a velodrome producing scores of medals and world-beating athletes, and Sports City providing excellent, accessable facilities.

However, up to the start of the Commonwealth Games, opinion  was much more divided.

Twelve months out, the Carter report identified a £100,000,000 overspend, and the Council, Government and Lottery fund had to make up the gap. In the end Manchester Council Tax payers had to foot a £85,000,000 bid.

I and the Liberal Democrats supported the Commonwealth Games at the time but argued for more money from Central Government. An argument Labour rejected then because it was a Labour government.

How times have changed. Now the Council constantly argue for more Government money, even with hundreds of millions in the Reserves.

Similarly with the Olympics. Before the Games, there have been regular gripes about security, fears about gridlock and resentment over Olympic traffic lanes. This will all be forgotten if the Games are a success, like the 2002 Commonwealth Games were.

But beware if you get it wrong.  Atlanta is still remembered for the gridlock, and not for being the fantastic sporting event it was.

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