New Zealand expresses interest in hosting Commonwealth Games in 2034

Officials in New Zealand formally expressed their interest in hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2034. A statement released by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) Thursday revealed that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has been notified that the nation is seeking to host its fourth Games.

Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony
Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony (Photo: Melbourne 2006)

“We have advised the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) that we are interested in exploring a New Zealand 2034 Commonwealth Games,” NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol said.

“We want to be very clear this concept is about a nation not a city, and we’d be looking to develop a Games that would help achieve nation-wide goals and engage young and diverse communities in sport.”

The NZOC reacted in response to the CGF call for expressions of interest from the Commonwealth nations to consider hosting the quadrennial multi-sport event in 2030 or 2034. This important first step puts the NZOC in a non-binding phase of informal dialogue with the CGF. With the primary focus of the CGF to site the earlier 2030 edition, “New Zealand has a significant runway to allow time to create an innovative and bold proposal for a potential 2034 bid, including undertaking a formal feasibility study,” the statement revealed.

Alberta has already entered the process with 2030 being the its target edition, but the Canadian province must still complete a feasibility study and get all stakeholders on board ahead of a late Summer deadline. Hamilton, also in Canada, recently stepped back from its bid to host the centennial edition of the Games at its birthplace because it could not secure required Provincial government guarantees.

“While this is an exciting step, we acknowledge that discussions are in the early stages and there is a significant process to go through before we are ready to confirm a bid. We would also like to thank the New Zealand Government for its initial support,” Nicol said.

“New Zealand is a brilliant host of sporting events, and we know we would hold a fantastic Commonwealth Games. We also would love to provide an opportunity for our athletes and Para athletes to compete in Aotearoa in front of friends and whānau, inspiring New Zealanders.”

The nation previously hosted the event, which has now grown to 72 nations, in Auckland in 1950 and 1990 and in Christchurch in 1974.

The CGF has struggled to site the Games, starting from Durban, South Africa’s unopposed election to host the 2022 edition after Edmonton dropped out due to economic reasons. Months later Durban was forced to withdraw due to a missed financial milestone. Birmingham, England stepped in with a short timeline to stage the event.

The 2026 Games went to Victoria, Australia through negotiation after the CGF failed to woo Hamilton as the only interested bidder.

The CGF has since restructured its bid process.

“The approach follows the implementation of a new hosting model by the CGF which allows for more flexible and innovative Games. Under the new model a potential New Zealand Games would see the sports program tailored to local interests, with competition to take place across multiple cities and regions,” the NZOC statement explained.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger fully backs the proposal and is hoping his city that hosted in 1974 can play a major role in 2034.

“I’d like to see us become the hub of New Zealand for the Games,” he said according to the New Zealand Herald.

He also recognizes the economic advantages and opportunity of spreading the events across the nation.

“We don’t need to build a velodrome, there’s two of those in the country already. We don’t need a rowing lake, one day we maybe hope to, but rather than spend lots of money on things we haven’t got, it’s better to spend less money on the things we have got.”

The CGF has no official timelines for the election of 2030 and 2034 hosts but officials have alluded to a possible dual allocation before the end of 2023.

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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