This paper analyses the diplomatic dynamics that define and underpin the relationship between the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Commonwealth Games host city. For the host city, the Commonwealth Games holds out the promise of global visibility, urban regeneration, improved economic activity and social cohesion. For the CGF, the appeal of the host city can improve athlete participation in the event, enhance the appeal and longevity of the sports involved and strengthen the sustainability of the sporting institution itself. The relationship is thus one of mutual convenience through which both actors seek to leverage the global appeal of the other to maximize their own interests and to advance their respective public diplomacy agendas. However, the benefits and opportunities are balanced by risks and challenges arising from distinct asymmetries in the power, interests, accountabilities and long-term engagement of the two key actors. Findings suggest that it is the host city, rather than the CGF, that is the more vulnerable player in the relationship.