Reports have emerged that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has approached Australian officials asking them to host the its 2026 marquee event in Melbourne, four years ahead of its potential plans to stage the event in 2030.
With only a little more than four years to go until the Opening Ceremony, the CGF is struggling to find a host for 2026 and its options are dwindling. Melbourne last hosted in 2006 and it is believed that the city can prepare quickly using most of its existing facilities and experience making the Victoria capital an ideal emergency host.
An unnamed source of the Herald Sun who is close to the discussions said “It’s not a goer, but it’s being looked at.”
“It’s not at a point yet where a bid has been approved, but it’s being worked through.”
Melbourne’s 2030 bid group chair Adem Karafili told the Herald Sun he supports the 2026 option explaining “We knew from day one this concept would make sense and Covid has made it even more achievable.”
“It’s designed to ensure that existing infrastructure is upgraded and revamped rather than building wholescale new facilities.”
He further explained that the 2030 concept is to spread the venues across Victoria instead of an event that is Melbourne-centered, something that could be adaptable to 2026.
Over the past decade the CGF has struggled to secure hosts for its major quadrennially-held multi-sport event. Bidders were sparse for the 2022 edition with Durban in South Africa elected to host only after Edmonton, Canada dropped out for financial reasons. Later Durban was stripped of those Games when the city missed important financial milestones leaving organizers scrambling for a replacement.
In a re-booted bid process Birmingham in England, already preparing to bid for the 2026 Games, was chosen as a replacement host for 2022. This pushed the 2026 host selection, typically held seven years ahead of the Games, well behind schedule and leaving little time for most cities to adequately prepare for the event. The CGF found itself without qualified bidders for the Games.
Hamilton is preparing to host in 2030, the centennial of the inaugural Games that were born in the Canadian city. The CGF urged those organizers to pivot to 2026 in order to fill the gap but the plan was rejected by the Ontario provincial government that has already invested in hosting FIFA World Cup matches that same year.
Bids for 2026 have since been considered in several locations throughout the Commonwealth but obstacles, including the financial burdens of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, have forced those plans to fold. Other Australian locations have also passed on the hosting opportunity including Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane – with the latter be elected to host the 2032 Olympic Games instead.
There is no set timetable for the naming of the Commonwealth Games host city, but with the clock ticking the CGF is ready to lock in its choice as soon as one is available.