SCOTTISH hockey player Fiona Burnet looks back on Glasgow 2014 fondly, remembering the buzz all around the city as people visited venues from Hampden Park to the Hydro to grab a glimpse of the vast array of sports that make up the Commonwealth Games.

Last year, she competed for Scotland at Birmingham 2022, an experience she said was “really special”.

The Games, for Scottish athletes, are often “the pinnacle”, given the nation does not get to compete in the Olympics in its own right and instead forms part of Team GB.

But, if recent headlines are anything to go by, Birmingham may have been the last edition of the Games we see.

The multi-sport event would appear to be in jeopardy after the state of Victoria in Australia pulled out of hosting in 2026, claiming it was no longer affordable.

To rub salt in the wound, the government of Alberta - the only confirmed potential bidder left for 2030 – has now halted its attempt to bring the event to the Canadian cities Calgary and Edmonton.

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These difficulties were perhaps not unexpected. Durban was due to host in 2022 but pulled out citing concerns about spiralling costs, before Birmingham stepped in to save the day.

For years, questions of whether the Games remain relevant have also spun around, given their intrinsic link to Britain’s colonial past as a competition set up to bring members of the British Empire together.

Meanwhile, there are many athletes who brush the Games aside, insisting they are less important than the Olympics which involves a much wider spread of nations.

For Burnet, these are valid conversations to be having, but she believes if the Games were to end, it would be a “huge loss” for athletes in Scotland and other small nations who regard it as the main competition they strive for.

Asked how it has felt hearing the Games are under threat, she told The National: “It’s really sad.

“I think it would be a huge loss [for Scotland] and it would have a real impact on sport in Scotland as a whole.

“It’s the main event a lot of people train for. The Olympics is always going to be the ultimate goal in any athlete’s mind, but getting to compete for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games should also be recognised as a major achievement. 

“I really do hope someone can step in. We [Scotland] don’t get to compete in any other multi-sport games, so the Commonwealth Games is something you always strive for and is at the forefront of your mind.”

While Burnet (below) has not yet competed for Team GB herself, she said from speaking to teammates who have there is a different feeling that arises when pulling on a Scotland kit. 

The National:

She said: “I think whether you’re competing for Scotland or Great Britain, it is a huge occasion and a huge honour.

“There’s something very special about representing the place you grew up in [though] and being able to compete with people you have been playing with for years from under-16 level [as part of Scotland].

“There’s nothing quite like it. To get to compete for your country at something like that is just really special.”

The Games were first held in 1930 and have only ever been called off once - during World War Two.

But some would say the event’s stability has been cracking for more than a decade. Aside from India in 2010, the five events so far this century have all been in the UK or Australia, with a decreasing appetite for hosting evident across the globe. Africa has still never hosted a Games.

Organisers had originally estimated the Victoria event - hosted across cities including Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat - would cost A$2.6bn (£1.4bn) but that figure more than doubled. Alberta has also removed itself from contention with estimated costs of up to £1.5billion.

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The Gold Coast has said it is ready to step in in place of Victoria, having hosted it only a few years ago in 2018, but no official decision on bidding has been made yet.

Burnet said she still believes the Games are relevant, given the legacy cities enjoy from hosting, plus the fact para sports are staged at the same time as regular events – something which does not happen at the Olympics.

The forward from Shandon near Helensburgh said: “I do [think they are still relevant].

“It's important to be aware of the past and the history of the Games. However, I do think they are taking steps in the right direction to make sure they are still relevant.

“For some individual countries this is the biggest sporting event they get to compete in a lot of the time. Equally, it's about the legacy that exists in cities from hosting these Games, it’s about inspiring the next generation of people to take on a different sport or be active.

“The fact it includes para sports at the same time as well I think is very important.”

Professor Gayle McPherson, director of centre for culture, sport and events at the University of the West of Scotland, recently told The National while the Games has always has a “tricky relationship” with its colonial past, much work had been done to change that image and promote it as an event for “unity and peace”.

She added it is a particularly important event for Scotland and small nations, as well as lesser-known sports such as squash and lawn bowls.

Burnet said: “It’s got a broader meaning to it than how it started out. We have to focus on the fact it means so much to a lot of the small nations, for example, in the Pacific, and for Scotland as well, it’s huge.

“It means so much having grown up with it. It’s the pinnacle for us when representing Scotland.”