Qualifying standards for 2018’s Commonwealth Games in Australia will be lowered for SA’s athletes‚ says SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) CEO Tubby Reddy.

To get to the 2014 showpiece in Glasgow‚ Sascoc stipulated that individuals and teams had to be ranked in the top five of the Commonwealth‚ but that will be reduced to top 10 for Gold Coast 2018.

More than 6,600 athletes from 70 nations are expected to compete in 275 medal events across 23 sporting disciplines from April 4-15.

This is a major departure from the stringent standards Sascoc has set for Commonwealth and Olympic games since Gideon Sam became Sascoc president in 2008.

Taking a bigger team to Australia became a consideration after Durban was awarded the 2022 Commonwealth Games‚ with the idea being to blood as many youngsters ahead of the home games.

But even with the city having lost the right to stage the event‚ the notion of a bigger squad has stuck.

"When we were supposed to host the 2022 games‚ Gideon’s idea was that we should have a bigger team‚ broaden the base‚" Reddy said on Monday.

"I think the idea was to give more people a chance to qualify and participate at that level."

Reddy said Sascoc’s membership‚ which comprises national federations‚ ultimately decided qualifying standards‚ adding he expected a "more robust" debate over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic standards.

For the 2016 Rio games‚ sports such as hockey‚ boxing‚ archery‚ modern pentathlon‚ women’s rugby sevens and fencing remained at home even though they had qualified using lesser standards not deemed acceptable by Sascoc.

The presidents of the individual federations had signed qualifying agreements with Sascoc.

"People are starting to realise that you can’t come and say ‘Sascoc decided’ — it’s a joint signatory‚" said Reddy.

"And I think where federations have been guilty is they have not consulted with their own membership."

Reddy said in future, federations would have to show they had a mandate.

"One of the additional things we’re asking for now‚ when you come to sign the policy‚ you must show us minutes of the meetings that you’ve had and attendance registers to show that it comes from the membership so that an athlete doesn’t say ‘But he [the federation’s president] had no right to sign‚ nobody discussed it with us.’

"And that’s been the grouch for a number of athletes previously," Reddy said.

Sascoc is being sued by fencer Juliana Barrett for more than R5.5m for not selecting her in 2016.

While some federations might not have communicated with their members properly‚ Sascoc itself has failed at basic mathematics, somehow ending up with 15 board members instead of the maximum of 14 as allowed by the constitution.

"The board is tasked with reducing from 15 to 14‚" said Reddy‚ adding the person to be cut would be a co-opted member.

TMG Digital

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