Commonwealth Games 2026 host to be named in May; Ghana in line for first edition in Africa

The CGF is also "exploring innovative new concepts and event opportunities and consulting with leaders across the global sporting landscape."

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony (Photo: Birmingham 2022)
Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony (Photo: Birmingham 2022)

After delays and rejection from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and other nations, the 2026 Commonwealth Games are set to be awarded to a host in May, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced Monday following an Executive Board meeting.

“The Commonwealth Games Federation is pleased to confirm that it is considering multiple proposals to Host the 2026 Games,” a statement read.

“Significant progress has been made and we are excited by the early concepts, which aim to reset and reframe the Games.”

No potential hosts have been named but the CGF said they are working “collaboratively” with relevant Commonwealth Games Associations (CGA) and have mutual agreements to “keep their proposals confidential while this process is on-going.”

A similar declaration was made last year with a promise to name a host “early in the new year,” but nothing concrete emerged.

Now the CGF has offered any host nation £100 million (USD $126 million) to stage the 2026 event on short notice, using proceeds from the penalty levied on Victoria after that Australian state backed out of the Games last year.

Meanwhile Ghana’s Sports Minister Mustapha Ussif said his nation is ready to step in after successfully hosting the African Games in 2023.

“In fact the president of Commonwealth Games was in Ghana,” Ussif told GHOne TV.

“He has visited our facilities and held a meeting with my good self. I had the opportunity of even attending some of their meetings.

“And their programs, they want African nation. They said it is time for Africa to host the Commonwealth Games, and Ghana, we have the facilities now.”

Durban in South African had been elected to be the first African nation to host the Games in 2022 but was later stripped of that honor when milestone payments were missed. That triggered a yearslong downward spiral for the CGA that has resulted in the current predicament.

Birmingham in England had originally targeted hosting in 2026 but agreed to step in earlier and was elected to fill that 2022 gap leading to a successful Games. That left no bidders for 2026, despite an exclusive offer made to Hamilton in Canada that was ultimately rejected.

Victoria then came forward and was chosen to host in 2026 without opposition.

But things unraveled quickly last year when the state premier suggested costs were skyrocketing, more than doubling from initial estimates of AUD $2.6 billion (USD $1.76 million), and he canceled plans to move forward despite a costly cancelation penalty of AUS $380 million (USD $244 million).

With little time to spare, the CGF is exploring several options.

“Alongside this process, the CGF continues to accelerate work to refresh the Games, a key commitment of Commonwealth United, our Strategic Plan, 2023-2034, including exploring innovative new concepts and event opportunities and consulting with leaders across the global sporting landscape,” the statement read.

“Importantly, we have been focusing on how we can transform the Games to a collaborative and truly sustainable model, minimizing costs and reducing its environmental footprint, whilst increasing social impact.

“Through this work we aim to create a modern, flexible blueprint for the future that inspires athletes, excites International Federations and potential Hosts, and is in the best interests of the wider Commonwealth Sport Movement.”

The Commonwealth Games hopes to celebrate its centennial edition in 2030, commemorating the inaugural British Empire Games held in Hamilton, Canada. Despite difficulties allocating 2026, the CGF has said there is interest in the later 2030 edition that would allow more time to prepare.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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