Officials defend Games' inclusion efforts

·3-min read

Commonwealth Games officials have defended their efforts to work with the LGBTQI community and say they have been speaking with Tom Daley.

The champion diver, who will be involved in Thursday night's opening ceremony, has been stinging in his criticism of homophobia amid Commonwealth nations ahead of the Birmingham Games.

The English Olympic and Commonwealth gold medallist, who has been in a same-sex relationship has said that out of the 56 member countries, 35 criminalise same-sex relations.

Speaking hours before the Birmingham opening ceremony, Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Katie Sadleir said they had worked hard to make the Birmingham Games as inclusive as possible.

"Our values of humanity, equality and destiny are really, really important to us," Sadleir said.

"We do pride ourselves as being what we think is probably the most inclusive Games, in terms of the types of programs you will see.

"We have been working with Tom and we've been working with a wider group.

"We set up a pride network, where we brought together athletes and CGAs (Commonwealth Games Associations) from around the world to talk about what it is we can do to create a safe environment for people to discuss and learn and respect each other."

Sadleir added the Commonwealth Games is limited in what it can do to influence laws in member nations.

"We're not a government agency, we're an international sports federation, so there are limitations on what we can and cannot do," she said.

"We cannot go and change the rules in countries, but what we can do is create opportunities for people to discuss issues in a safe environment."

She said Pride pop-ups had been set up in the athlete villages to encourage discussion and there is a Pride House in Birmingham during the Games.

Meanwhile, Sadleir said the Birmingham Games will cope with whatever challenges are thrown at them, noting they have overcome plenty already.

Another train strike scheduled for Saturday is the latest issue for Games organisers.

"The organising committee have dealt with Brexit, they've dealt with Covid, they've dealt with heat waves, they've dealt with train strikes," she said.

"Bring it on.

"The resilience that's in place in terms of mitigation strategies to address all these things has been phenomenal."

Games organisers are confident Birmingham will meet, or even exceed, their ticket sale forecasts.

Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid said they were close to selling 1.3 million tickets, already bettering sales for the last Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

"We're on track ... to be the largest Commonwealth Games, in the UK certainly, in terms of ticket sales," he said.

"We've just overtaken the last edition on the Gold Coast.

"This morning's report had us pretty close to 1.3 million tickets sold, within the next couple of days we should have overtaken Glasgow's ticket sales (in 2014) as well.

"So there's a huge appetite in the city."

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