Commonwealth Games…raw deal for sportsmen and developing nations

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WHEN President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new leader, expectations of thawing of relations with our erstwhile enemies naturally permeated every sector and sports was not spared.
But while the country’s sportspersons are expecting positive results from the ongoing re-engagement efforts, particular emphasis has been placed on the Zimbabwe and Britain relations for very significant and understandable reasons.
Zimbabwe is likely to be readmitted into the Commonwealth anytime from now and this comes with the right to participate in the Commonwealth Games.
These games are seen as providing a platform for sportspersons to showcase their talent to the world.
The next edition of the games will be held in 2022 with a total of 53 countries participating. 
The Commonwealth Games have generated a lot of interest over the years before Zimbabwe’s pull-out from the former coloniser’s bloc in 2003.
With Britain putting pressure on other Commonwealth nations to isolate Zimbabwe over its Land Reform and Resettlement Programme of 2000, former President Robert Mugabe pulled the plug by quitting the bloc during the meeting in Abuja. 
Several Zimbabwean athletes and boxers have featured in the games and won medals.
They had become an envy of most sportspersons.
Just an appearance at the games was a source of prestige. 
The games attract attention the world over.
The games were used by several athletes as a stepping stone to professional careers.
It provided an opportunity for athletes like Tendai Chimusoro, Abel Chimukoko, Julia Sakala and Samkeliso Moyo, swimmer Kirsty Coventry, bowler Rag Garden and boxer Alfonso Zvenyika, among others, to turn professional.
The above mentioned athletes won medals and prize money during the Commonwealth Games.
Zvenyika, one of the country’s prominent pugilist, fought at the Commonwealth Games and won two of his three title fights in 1998.
The Mbare-based boxer won the first flyweight title on January 26 1998 against Paul Weah of Scotland with a 11th round knockout.
The next fight was against Keith Knox of Ireland who won it in the eighth round, again with a knockout.
The third fight was in December and he lost on points to Damien Kelly of Ireland. 
For taking part in the three bouts, Zvenyika, affectionately known as Mosquito, netted US$14 000.
The first fight left Zvenyika US$4 000 richer while he earned US$5 000 each for the second and third fights.
However, what baffled Zvenyika was he was to initially get US$4 000 for winning the fight against Knox but he complained and was paid US$1 000 more than the previous fight. 
He complained to Gilbert Josam, his trainer, who referred the matter to Stalin Mau Mau, his manager then. 
“The second fight they wanted to give me US$4 000 again and then I talked to my trainer Josam and my manager was Mau Mau. I argued, I am a champion, how can I keep on fighting for US$4 000 and Josam said I will talk to the manager. He told Mau Mau and went to negotiate with the white guys. He came back and said they had added US$1 000,” said Zvenyika. 
With an increase in pay out coming after a verbal protest, Zvenyika still wonders how much was written on the contract which he never saw.
His question is: How can a payout be negotiated verbally and an increase effected at the same time?
He cannot help but feel he was fleeced by the white ‘authorities’. 
With the thousands who attended the boxing matches and the TV rights paid, Zvenyika felt cheated. 
Millions are paid for TV rights for the Commonwealth Games — this year’s games at the Gold Coast US$40 million was paid for the rights.
Other editions of the games have racked in similar millions with the 2006 games in Melbourne bringing in
US$50 million. 
While there are several cities that have hosted the games, Africa is yet to get a chance.
Since 1930, the games have been held consistently, save for 1942 and 1946 when they were cancelled because of the Second World War.
Abuja, Nigeria, was the first African city to bid for the games but lost out to Glasglow in 2014. 
Africa, which has several countries under the Commonwealth, have not hosted the games for the past 88 years.
Durban was scheduled to host the next edition of the games but the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) withdrew the bid.
There is always a reason for denying Africa a chance. 
Allegations are that Durban did not meet the payment deadlines though the South African government was ready to inject R4 billion.
The first payment of £1.5-million
(R24 million) was to be paid by March 31 2016 for hosting the event.
The Federation wanted in excess of
R11 billion as the Glasglow games had gobbled that much. 
Expenses aside, the benefits of hosting the games was threefold. Gold Coast realised up to US$4 billion for hosting the just-ended games. 
It seems Africa is not worthy to receive such a massive economic boost.
Western pundits say the games are not good for developing nations, whatever that means. 
So, the 2022 games will be hosted by either Birmingham or Liverpool as the UK continues to flex its muscle to benefit economically from the sporting bonanza.
Where, therefore, are the Commonwealth values of humanity, equality and destiny when there is no equality in hosting the games?
It seems Commonwealth Games are another enterprise by the British to continue drawing funds from their former colonies in affiliation fees and payments for hosting the games.

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