Groups from Hamilton and Calgary will now have to wait until at least mid-May to learn whether they will represent Canada in potential bids to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026 or 2030.
An announcement by Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC) had been expected Tuesday (March 31) but a decision has been delayed amid the global coronavirus pandemic that has forced nations to shut shown in order to save lives.
“COVID has significantly impacted and slowed down CSC’s work,” said CEO Brian MacPherson according to the Hamilton Spectator.
“Consequently, CSC will be delayed in announcing its decision on Next Steps in selecting Canada’s next Commonwealth Games candidate city.”
CSC was to assess the two contending bids this past month but both the provinces of Ontario where Hamilton and Ottawa-based CSC is located, and Calgary’s Alberta are in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hamilton’s bid to host the centennial 2030 edition in the same city where the Games debuted is considered a favorite for the CSC and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). The “Hamilton 100” bid group Chaired by P.J. Mercanti received the city council’s nod last month but would still need to secure provincial and federal funding and take on international competitors before earning the hosting rights.
Another group from Calgary is vying to host the Games in 2026. The CGF has said they may award both the 2026 and 2030 Games simultaneously as early as this year.
But much could change as the pandemic transforms the world sport landscape, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games the latest and most high profile events to be delayed one year, to July 23, 2021. With the battle against COVID-19 also creating an economic crisis and possible global depression, the bid groups and government partners may want to reconsider the expense and capital commitment required for the Games.
Calgary’s economy will be dealt an even greater blow as its key oil industry is reeling due to a fall in world barrel prices.
Hamilton’s other possible 2030 rival – the fledgling interest from Vancouver to host the Olympic Winter Games in the same year – is off the table for now as a March 31 city council debate on the motion has been postponed while the city instead deals with the urgent health crisis.
Hamilton has initially scoped a CAD $1.425 billion (USD $1 billion) price tag to host the Games.
The next Commonwealth Games is set to take place in Birmingham in 2022.