Hopefully no city turns out to be daft enough to launch a late hosting bid to save the Commonwealth Games from being pronounced dead.
There was a time when teachers across Britain pointed to maps on classrooms and told their pupils to take in all the red and be proud.
Britain’s imperialist past was once a source of celebration, and the Commonwealth Games were designed to reflect that.
Never a country to fight its delusions of grandeur and self-importance, the Brits genuinely thought that gathering up all the colonies every four years to see who could run the fastest and jump the farthest was the perfect opportunity for the conquered to show their gratitude for the railways that had been built, the borders that had been madly redrawn and the governments established.
But in more recent times, the shine has been rubbed off imperialism as the oppressed have won a voice – and, far from being a celebration, the Commonwealth Games have increasingly felt like a terrible attempt to “history-wash” and pretend that colonialism wasn’t an asset strip, land grab and powerplay of the most heinous and unjustifiable kind.
All this might be a little deep and far-removed for those who like to believe that history and politics are divorced from sport.
It’s easier to believe that major sports events are the great unifier rather than the vehicle through which geo-political battles are subtly waged and that somehow an epic 1500m race in 1974 atones for the stealing, killing and cultural destruction.
But sports events have forever been linked with politics. The Roman emperors knew the value of distraction – of providing entertainment for the disaffected to keep the masses occupied on things other than their anger with the regime.
And the modern Olympics have never really been free of politics or big business.
In 1936, Hitler tried to use the Berlin Olympic Games to demonstrate the athletic ability of his Aryan master race, while the Soviets saw the Olympics as an extension of the Cold War battlefield and a way to exert their self-believed superiority over the Americans.
In turn, the Americans paid homage to capitalism by effectively giving the 1984 Olympics to the multinational corporations who have replaced governments as the great imperialists of the modern age.
The Commonwealth Games – and let’s not forget they began life as the Empire Games before the collapse of Britain as an imperial power forced a major rebrand in the 1960s – need to be left to quietly die now that Victoria and the Gold Coast have pulled out of hosting the 2026 event and no other venue has yet come forward as a viable alternative.
The last two events have gone ahead on the misguided notion that there was some kind of subsidiary financial benefit to be gained by hosting. In the case of Birmingham last year, backers saw an opportunity to help Britons forget they had voted themselves out of Europe and they hoped to rekindle a few old, so-called friendships.
There was maybe – and it was a big maybe – a case to be made earlier this year that Auckland should try to step in, and host a sort of anti-Commonwealth Games that showcased Aotearoa as a country trying to recalibrate its colonial past, put all the branding in te reo, and not so subtly demonstrate to the world that there is a pathway to post-colonial harmony.
But that ship has sailed, leaving a slightly horrifying possibility that the new government – so intent on winding the clock back 50 years – may fancy the idea of playing host to glorify the Empire and provide their strongest evidence yet that they see racism as the antidote to “wokeism”.
But thankfully Auckland is such a basket case of broken and poorly funded infrastructure that even the Beehive’s three horsemen of the apocalypse would fear that pictures of them in a rickety old Mt Smart and drone shots of the city’s horrific traffic going global would undermine any traction they gained with red-neck New Zealand and conspiracy theorists by hosting a colonialism-is-not-dead themed games.
No doubt, without a host materialising for the 2026 Games, there will be a stream of opinion pieces mourning the potential loss of something special.
But nostalgia should be reserved for things we truly treasured and miss, like vinyl, milk floats that dropped a couple of pints on your doorstep and a time when teenagers didn’t order food by saying, “can I get”.
The Commonwealth Games were always a bad idea, designed to legitimise a yet worse idea and no one should mourn their passing if – and inevitably when – that happens.