THE Commonwealth Games in Birmingham may not quite have the glamour of last edition, in Australia’s Gold Coast, nor the excitement of home advantage as was the case at Glasgow 2014 but nevertheless, this event is something Team Scotland’s 261 athletes have been looking forward to for a very long time. 

For many, who spend their careers representing GB, it’s their only chance to compete in Scotland colours. 

For others, this will be their first taste of a multi-sport event and for everyone, these Games will be the first multi-sport event since the pandemic began which does not take place inside a watertight bubble and in front of empty stands. 

Recent Commonwealth Games have been a happy hunting ground for Team Scotland. 

In 2014, on home soil, Scottish athletes ensured Team Scotland had its most successful Commonwealth Games ever, winning 53 medals, 19 of which were gold. 

Four years later, in Gold Coast, Team Scotland had its most successful overseas Games, winning 44 medals, nine of which were gold. 

This time, in Birmingham, team managers have been somewhat coy about setting any concrete medal targets but with the Games as close to being on home soil as is possible outwith Scotland, there is a quiet confidence that Team Scotland can do exceptionally well over the next eleven days. 

Certainly, there is no shortage of stars in Team Scotland’s ranks. 

On the track, there is Jake Wightman fresh off his world title win and Laura Muir targeting her first Commonwealth medal; in the pool, Duncan Scott is aiming to add further to the seven Commonwealth medals he already possesses and in the velodrome, Jack Carlin and Neah Evans will be aiming to make up for the absence of Katie Archibald by building on their Olympic success last summer. 

But these Games have a greater significance than just eleven days of sport. 

There is little doubt the magic of the Commonwealth Games is dwindling. 

It has been for a while now. 

As far back as 2010, the brand was damaged, with the host city of Delhi struggling to have the Games ready on time and then leaving numerous ‘white elephants’ of stadiums in its wake. 

Glasgow 2014 reinvigorated the Games in Britain and across the Commonwealth and Gold Coast four years later also made a decent fist of being host city. 

Birmingham will, almost certainly, also put on a good show but where the Commonwealth Games go in the coming decades is in question. 

The number of countries showing any interest in hosting the Games is fast declining, with a reversal of this apathy vital for the future of the event. 

Recent searches for host countries have been a struggle, to say the least, with Victoria in Australia finally, after several delays in order to try to generate interest from potential hosts, being awarded the 2026 Games. 

It is perhaps of little surprise that there is a reluctance to host; Birmingham 2022 is costing well over £750 million, while Gold Coast spent almost £200 million more than that in 2018. 

It is quite a price tag, particularly when there is no guarantee the best athletes in the world will even turn up. 

The Games are changing inherently in an attempt to remain an attractive prospect; an Athletes’ Village is no longer required, and events can be held outside of the host city, with Birmingham’s 2022 track cycling being held in London a case in point. 

In what is becoming an increasingly busy sporting calendar each year, there is less and less room for the Commonwealth Games to be squeezed in. 

And for many of the world’s very top athletes, a Commonwealth medal falls short in terms of appeal compared to silverware from the other major championships. 

However, there is still significant value to the Commonwealth Games. 

Firstly, done well, as proven at Glasgow 2014, it can bring a city, and a country, together in a way few other things outside of sport can come close to. 

It gives an incentive to build sporting venues that can be used for decades after the Games conclude and an event such as this can engender young people’s interest in sport in a way single sport events rarely manage. 

And, for the athletes involved, the Commonwealth Games can be a highlight of their career - I know it was of mine. 

The presence of global superstars such as Adam Peaty, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce and Emma McKeon et al in Birmingham suggest there is still an appetite for Commonwealth success amongst the very best. 

What usually happens, and is almost certain to be the case at Birmingham 2022, is a healthy dose of cynicism right up until the Games begin and the sport starts. 

Once medals begin to be won, almost all of the negativity dissipates, and quickly. 

With Team Scotland brimming with medal prospects from as early as day one of Birmingham 2022, there are all the indicators this will be a hugely successful eleven days for Scotland.  

The biggest question is, just how successful?