Commonwealth Games Federation approves measures to attract potential host cities

Time is running out to find a host for the Games in 2026 with a lack of bidders and the COVID-19 pandemic having delayed the process substantially.

 (CGF)
(CGF)

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), still in search of a host for the 2026 edition, unveils a new Strategic Roadmap designed to give potential future hosts more flexibility in delivering the Games.

A series of recommendations “to increase hosting benefits and make the Games even more cost effective, whilst engaging new audiences” was approved by the Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) at the 2021 CGF General Assembly, which was held virtually for a second straight year due to the pandemic..

Among the “innovative concepts” the CGF is urging are co-hosting and mass participation events.

Potential hosts will also have more say in what sports will be on the program, with only athletics and swimming being proposed as required. Those two sports have been included since the first Games in 1930.

The CGF is recommending that approximately 15 sports feature on the program. The next edition of the Games, in Birmingham, England next year, will have 19 sports.

As part of an ongoing consultation with International Federations, there are ambitions to provide hosts a wider list of core sports from which to choose. This will now include disciplines that have previously been listed as optional sports such as T20 Cricket, Beach Volleyball and 3x3 Basketball. The CGF believes this would give hosts “the ability to propose entirely new sports, relevant to their nation or culture, to enhance cultural showcasing and community engagement”.

The CGF will continue to work with future hosts to agree to a minimum and maximum cap on athlete numbers, helping ensure that the size, scale and cost of the multi-sport event is continually optimized and carefully managed.

CGF president Louise Martin and Queen Elizabeth II at the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay for Birmingham 2022. (CGF)
CGF president Louise Martin and Queen Elizabeth II at the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay for Birmingham 2022. (CGF)

“Our Games need to adapt, evolve and modernise to ensure we continue to maintain our relevance and prestige across the Commonwealth,” said CGF president Louise Martin. “After a long period of hard work and consultation, incorporating the views and opinions of our membership and experts across the world, we are excited to move forwards with this Roadmap. I would like to thank all our 72 Commonwealth Games Associations for their support.

“Our next step is to work closely with our International Federation partners to ensure they can contribute to the vision and direction of the Roadmap in order to underpin the future of the Games.”

Time is fast running out to find a host for the Games in 2026. Normally, a host is chosen seven years in advance but a lack of bidders and the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed the process substantially.

The CGF so far is sticking to its stated plan that a decision on a host will be made by the end of the first quarter of next year, a little more than four years before the Games are scheduled.

A shortened preparation window would mirror that of Birmingham, which was awarded the 2022 Games in December 2017 after Durban, South Africa was stripped of hosting in March 2017.

There is at least one serious contender to host in 2030. Hamilton, Ontario had initially planned to bid for the centenary edition but agreed to switch to 2026 when asked by the CGF to do so.

But the 2026 bid was abandoned last year when the province declined to back it. The city, which hosted the inaugural Games, has now turned its focus back to 2030.