In a word: shattered. All my hard work has been, it seems, for nought. The decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games means that my long-held dream of playing representative sport will remain unrealised. Not only did I fancy my chances of being selected to compete in the ultra-competitive sport of extreme-quoits (which was to make its Games debut), I was more than half a chance at being named ‘Captain’. Granted, this would only occur if I changed my name legally by deed poll, but you can’t tell me that ‘Captain Quoit’ doesn’t have a powerful ring to it.
Maybe it’s not too late. Perhaps there’s something that can be done to rescue this Titanic bin fire, smothered in a schemozzle-glaze with a Hindenburg chaser. Given that the issue is the price, there are a few practical things that can be done to trim costs. Luckily, I have a pair of rusty hairdresser scissors I keep in the third drawer in the kitchen and am ready to start trimming in earnest. The first step is obvious – relocate the entire shebang to the Mornington Peninsula.
Stay with me. The Mornington Peninsula has what it takes to host a (semi) successful games, which is a lot better than no games at all. It starts with the opening ceremony.
Frankly, the opening ceremony is the budgeting equivalent of a truck filled with money being setting on fire. This will need to be significantly downsized. Instead of a major sporting arena, the opening ceremony should, instead, be relocated to the Twenty First Dance Club in Frankston. It already has lighting and a public address system and athletes could be spared the indignity of having to parade in a circle, instead, simply climbing aboard the revolving dance floor and letting the technology do the work.
Not that there won’t be problems. Back when I used to go to the Twenty First Century Dance Club – which (admittedly) was sometime before the Twenty First Century – those at the front door were very particular about shoes. Shoes rather than eyes, it seems, are the window to the soul. This could prove something of an issue, as athletes are notoriously fond of sneakers, which once constituted grounds for exclusion. To this day, the words ‘not with those shoes’ continue to haunt me in my dreams. Competitors would need their ‘dress shoes’.
No opening ceremony would be complete without top-shelf entertainment. We should ask Andrew Hosking and Coupe de Ville now to set time aside in their diaries for 2026. Granted, this will be something of a blow to Human Nature, who had probably considered themselves certain starters, but no one ever said that the new, streamlined version of the Commonwealth Games wouldn’t require a few sacrifices.
If there’s one thing I know about athletes – besides their near fanatical commitment to wearing sneakers – it’s that they like to eat. A lot. Not a problem – this could be the very first games where spectators are required to bring a plate. You can’t tell me that competitors from other Commonwealth nations wouldn’t welcome a plateful of cold buttered pikelets and a jelly slice. It’s a shame that other major athletic carnivals don’t apply a similar rule.
I appreciate that equipment can be both expensive and hard to source. After all, you’re unlikely to stumble over a javelin at Rebel Sport. That’s why every sport will be modified to use just one piece of sporting equipment – namely, the second-hand tennis ball that mysteriously (or, if you’re my neighbour, not so mysteriously) appeared in my backyard last Thursday. I appreciate that as athletic kit goes, a second-hand tennis ball is pretty basic, so I’ve decided to put electrical tape on one side to make it less predictable and more exciting.
To make this work, I’ve had to reduce the number of events slightly. At the last Commonwealth Games, there were twenty-one sports and two hundred and seventy-two events. I’ve decided to cut this back to just two. Namely, backyard cricket and quoits. Not only are these two sports for which I feel the standard of competition will be enviably high, neither of them requires that much in the way of space. Indeed, community involvement would be assured once locals are asked to volunteer their backyards as venues.
And then there’s the athletes themselves. At the last games, there were more than five thousand of them. That feels somewhat excessive. I would like to try and reduce that down to something a little more manageable. Probably six. And instead of a carnival across a fortnight, I’m thinking that an afternoon should just about do it. Sure, it’s not as big and as grand as we’re used to, but is anything? For all it loses in terms of pomp and ceremony, I can almost guarantee a pleasant day out for all concerned.
I may well be a genius. In one column, I’ve managed to reduce the projected budget for the 2026 Commonwealth Games down from the eye-watering, shapeshifting sum of six billion dollars to something slightly south of two hundred bucks. You’re welcome. But if a one day, six-person, back yard cricket and quoits version of the Commonwealth Games sounds a little bit sad and lamentable, it’s still miles better than bailing out altogether. Let the games begin.
Yours truly – Captain Quoit