Commonwealth Games: Birmingham 2022 shooting & archery events could take place in India

Sanjeev Rajput
Sanjeev Rajput won shooting gold for India at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018

The 2022 Commonwealth Games could see shooting and archery staged in India several months before the main event starts in Birmingham.

The unprecedented proposal has been put forward by India, who had threatened to boycott Birmingham 2022 after shooting was excluded from the Games.

The UK government is thought to welcome the idea.

BBC Sport understands the results of the competitions would count towards the official medal tally.

The change will be considered by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) over the coming weeks.

It could be accepted by its executive board as soon as next month, and then put to a full vote of the CGF's 71 member associations.

India has agreed to pay for the cost of hosting the two competitions - thought to be as much as £20m.

Shooting's Birmingham u-turn

Shooting has been included in every Games apart from one since 1966.

But last year Birmingham 2022 announced that the sport - along with archery - had been left out of the programme, as they are both optional sports for host cities.

Beach volleyball, Para-table tennis and women's cricket were included instead as organisers focused on trying to attract younger and more diverse audience. Shooting was deemed to be of no benefit to the West Midlands as it would have been staged in Bisley, Surrey.

India has a proud record in shooting. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, the country's shooters accounted for 16 of their 66 medals, contributing to a third-placed finish in the medal table. They threatened to boycott the event if a compromise could not be found.

That caused alarm within the UK government, which hopes the £788m event will be an advert for global, post-Brexit Britain and help secure trade deals. Birmingham 2022 will be the biggest and most expensive sports event to be staged in the UK since the London 2012 Games.

In August, sports minister Nigel Adams wrote to CGF officials suggesting a compromise in which shooting would be staged at Bisley in the UK in 2022, but not be part of the official Games programme.

A groundbreaking move

In November CGF officials held crisis talks with Indian sports authorities in New Delhi and expressed optimism that a solution could be found.

Last month it announced India had dropped the threat of a boycott.

But BBC Sport has learned that India's Olympic Association has now written to the CGF with a groundbreaking proposal for a pre-Games shooting and archery competition.

The idea, backed by India's government and the two sports' international federations, is for the events to take place in either New Delhi or Chandigarh four months before the action gets under way in Birmingham.

Medals would count in the event's official table.

Some will welcome the suggestion as a highly innovative solution that enables shooters and archers to take part in the Games and successfully avoids a highly embarrassing and damaging boycott by the Commonwealth's largest country.

Others, however, may fear an exception will be made simply because of India's political clout, and that it could undermine British teams' prospects at Birmingham 2022 if they start the event already trailing India in the medal table after the proposed shooting and archery competitions.

In a statement, CGF chief executive David Grevemberg described it as an "innovative proposal with the ambition of strengthening Commonwealth sport" and said it would be "reviewed by the CGF and discussed with Birmingham 2022 delivery partners".

He added: "Key aspects of this assessment will be to ensure that the proposal conforms with our rules and regulations, is operationally deliverable, sets manageable precedents for the Commonwealth Games and ultimately adds value to athletes and the Commonwealth sports movement."

On Tuesday, Julian Knight, the MP for Solihull and a member of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. described it as "an inelegant solution but a solution all the same".

He added: "As someone who was deeply involved in ensuring women's T20 cricket got into the Games, I knew how much of a bone of contention shooting and archery was and how tricky it has been to solve.

"The Games is about inclusivity and its second-rank nature compared to the Olympics means it has to compromise at times, that's the simple truth."

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