THE Times opened up a can of worms this week when it reported derogatory comments about the Commonwealth Games claimed to have been made by Usain Bolt.

The Jamaican sprinter quickly denied them, saying the Games were in fact “awesome”, but it did not stop some murmurings of discontent resurfacing.

While the overriding feelings created by Glasgow 2014 have been positive in the extreme, there is a long-standing argument the former Empire Games have had their day.

It is an argument fuelled by the continued absence of some of the world’s top sporting talent, of which Bolt is a good example.

The 27-year-old athlete made his Commonwealth Games debut at Glasgow, but has chosen only to take part in the 4x100m relay.

So whether or not the quotes attributed to Bolt are genuine, the hunt for Commonwealth gold clearly ranks pretty low on his list of priorities.

The argument is that the failure of some of the world’s best to compete somehow devalues the achievements of the medal winners.

But while Bolt’s blasé attitude may well ring alarm bells for future sponsors, I am certain his fellow competitors could not care less.

Just ask Jamaica’s Kemar Bailey-Cole, who took advantage of Bolt’s absence to claim gold in the 100metres.

And the joyous reaction of England’s Adam Gemili when he claimed silver in the same event was clearly not tempered by the elephant in the room/stadium.

There is a natural progression for sportsmen and women, who graduate from competing for their schools to clubs, counties, regions and ultimately their countries.

The Commonwealth Games is part of that progression, which continues all the way to the Olympics.

But for many, a medal at Glasgow 2014 may well represent the pinnacle of their achievements and will be cherished for a lifetime.

That sense of achievement may be difficult for armchair viewers to appreciate, but it certainly comes across in the venues, where the excitement created is infectious.

That is why I believe the cynics who argue against the Commonwealth Games have possibly never been to watch them live.

They are similar to those people who call themselves football fans just because they watch the Premier League religiously on Match of the Day.

Supporters of lower league clubs will tell you that the passion in the game’s lower reaches is no less than that shown on the biggest stage.

And true sports fans know that the level of enjoyment you get from being a spectator does not derive from the level of skill on show, but the spirit and determination of those competing.

That is why there will always be a place for the Commonwealth Games.