Hamilton expects Commonwealth Games bid decision “imminently”

Hamilton 2026 bid Chair Lou Frapporti expects government feedback on Canada’s Commonwealth Games bid soon, but it’s still not clear if 2026, 2027 or 2030 will be the desired year to host the major quadrennial sport event in its birthplace.

Artist rendering of Tim Hortons Field, proposed venue for the Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremonies

Artist rendering of Tim Hortons Field, proposed venue for the Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremonies (Hamilton 2026 Image)

In a letter written to Hamilton city council Saturday, Frapporti said a government decision is on its way.

He wrote “…we were informed earlier this week that the Province [of Ontario] is working to make a decision on this offer imminently which they expect to convey to us in the near future.”

“…Should the Province clearly express its reluctance to pursue a pre 2030 event (in ’26 or ’27) we will immediately cease our efforts in that regard.

“In the event that the province expresses a willingness to discuss the matter further when the [coronavirus] crisis subsides, thereby permitting a more careful assessment of the recovery opportunity presented by the Games, we would be delighted to consider further activity.”

Ontario is currently under stay-at-home orders due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with most businesses shuttered, many schools closed and sports facilities locked down.

Frapporti wrote “…it goes without saying that the pandemic and its impacts are continuing, and arguably worsening, beyond our expectations, which understandably complicates this effort considerably.”

Read full letter Hamilton 2026 Bid Chair Lou Frapporti issued to Hamilton City Council Regarding the 2026 Commonwealth Games

But the Hamilton 2030 chair believes that a responsibly planned Commonwealth Games in 2026 could provide an economic boost needed in the wake of the economic crisis caused by lockdowns.

Hamilton city council, with the support of the provincial and federal governments, already approved a bid to host the Games in 2030 which would mark the centenary of the inaugural British Empire Games staged in Hamilton.  But in 2019, with no strong prospects to host in 2026, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) offered Hamilton an exclusive opportunity to host the earlier Games.

With the FIFA World Cup football tournament set to be hosted in Canada, United States and Mexico and provincial capital Toronto a likely host for some of the matches, Ontario government officials passed on the Commonwealth Games for the same year, citing an economic conflict.  But Ontario’s Minister of Heritage and Sport Lisa MacLeod kept the door open for a 2027 event.

The CGF last year said the Games are scheduled for 2026, not 2027 – but indicated that they could entertain discussions to the latter.  At the time Frapporti facilitated direct deliberations between provincial officials and the CGF to expedite the process.  The outcome of these discussions are expected to be revealed soon.

If Hamilton does not move forward with a 2026 or 2027 proposal it can campaign for the 2030 edition but without any guarantees of success.

Last month the CGF disclosed that it has entered talks with Sri Lanka and Australia – both reportedly interested in hosting in 2026.

CGF Expands Search For Host Of 2026 Commonwealth Games To Australia and Sri Lanka

Frapporti acknowledged that work put into the 2026 bid will be valuable should Hamilton take a path to 2030 instead.

He wrote “…we are of the view that the reconsideration of our hosting proposal over the last several months, prompted by the pandemic, was invaluable.”

“Owing to this effort, we are resolved to curate a much more economical and inclusive hosting plan focused on social impact, sustainable development and health and wellness, as the centre piece of our bid for 2030 (if required).”

The CGF is already behind in siting the 2026 Games that are typically awarded at least six years in advance of the opening.  Delays have followed missteps that began when Durban was stripped of the 2022 Games after the South African city missed critical financial milestones.  A new campaign resulted in the election of Birmingham to host the event instead, removing that qualified English city from the 2026 race.

Now, pandemic fears are putting the Birmingham Games in Jeopardy with the emergence of new coronavirus variants that are hitting the U.K. hard.  The CGF will need to make decisions soon if it hopes to successfully stage the Commonwealth Games this decade.

Frapporti has promised to report the Province’s new direction to city council in the coming days.

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