Commonwealth Games Federation Sets September Deadline For Hamilton 2026 Games Bid

The Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games bid committee has been given a September deadline by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to secure necessary government support for the Games.

In a letter addressed to the Canada’s bid for the Games, the CGF said that it has been working “exclusively with [Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC)] on plans to host” the quadrennial event in Hamilton since August last year.

Hamilton had been focusing on sentimentally hosting the 2030 Games which would mark the centennial of the inaugural event staged in the same city.  But delays in selecting Birmingham as the 2022 host after Durban in South Africa was dropped for missing crucial deadlines created an urgency to find a suitable 2026 host.

Hamilton organizers agreed to pivot their bid to 2026 and the CGF claims it has “invested significant time and dedicated resources to support Hamilton in the development of its proposals.”

But the CGF has alluded that the bid will need to secure a commitment from municipal, provincial and federal partners before the end of September in order for the exclusive engagement and support to move forward.

“We believe there is an urgency needed to capitalize on this unique opportunity and secure an extension of our support,” the letter reads.

Many jurisdictions across Canada, including the Province of Ontario, have suffered severe economic blows due to the coronavirus pandemic, and recovery amid a likely years-long recession has become the priority for government partners that have already provided multi-billion dollar bailouts.

In addition, both the federal and provincial governments have already committed public funds to the hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup when nearby Toronto will likely stage matches and the sports funding quota will already be topped up for the year.

On Facebook, the bid committee said “all three levels of government have a lot on their plates right now, but this is an opportunity that totally aligns with what we need to do to get the economy going again.”

The CGF used the same recovery angle in its letter stating “the Games returning to its place of origin would support the city and the province in its recovery from COVID-19, as well as contributing to ongoing regeneration initiatives and the communities’ long-term sustainability and prosperity agendas.”

CGF Pitches Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games As A Tool For Regional Pandemic Recovery

Receiving multi-level support at this time will be a significant challenge for the bid committee as record unemployment sweeps across Canada.  Many governments are holding reduced sessions due to the pandemic and during the summer break, further complicating progress.

Reports have emerged that not all of the councilors on Hamilton’s city council are on board with plans due to fears of cost over runs

The CGF hopes to award the Games by the end of this year, and although officials have claimed that there are other international cities interested in hosting if Hamilton cannot, none have been officially named for 2026.

“Our aspiration remains to award the Games by the end of the year, with potential flexibility arising from the global pandemic, and we hope you continue to work closely with your team at Hamilton 2026, CSC and Government Partners as you develop your proposals to host an outstanding Games in the City of Hamilton in 2026,” the letter reads.

If Hamilton doesn’t move forward with a 2026 bid, original plans are still in place to pursue the 2030 edition where the city stands as the favorite.  However, the CGF has offered no guarantee that the city will be chosen for those centennial Games.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil