Fair play

Saturday 18 March 2006 10:25 PM

At the risk of causing economists to choke with hysterical laughter, here's my prescription for restoring equity, good sense and goodwill to the Commonwealth Games. (Substitute "Olympic, etc." as applicable.) Adopt a standard "template" (including time limits) for the opening and closing ceremonies, expressed in cultural forms appropriate to the host nation. Establish an international Games Equity Fund (GEF), administered and invested by a panel from the wealthiest participating nations, and audited by a panel from the poorest. Funds for the GEF would be raised by a compulsory levy on participating nations, assessed by a formula applied to each nation's GDP, with a GDP cut-off below which no levy is payable. The GEF would be used first to finance the costs to the five poorest nations of fielding their teams. The balance would then be payable to the host nation to cover the opening and closing ceremonies. The host nation can add to this amount as much as it chooses, on the condition that the investment is matched dollar-for-dollar by a supplementary contribution to the GEF, toward the next-following games.