Victoria, Canada positions for surprise 2026 Commonwealth Games bid

With the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) struggling to find a host for the 2026 edition of the Games, a new and unexpected suitor could be emerging from Western Canada.  On Wednesday publisher David Black wrote an op/ed in the Vancouver Sun and other media outlets laying out what appears to be a pitch to reignite a project from British Columbia capital Victoria.

Victoria, British Columbia skyline (Photo: Brandon Godfrey)

Victoria, British Columbia skyline (Photo: Brandon Godfrey)

Black was behind Victoria’s successful 1994 Commonwealth Games and is apparently writing on behalf of the city’s failed 2022 bid that was shelved when the Province denied funding for the project.

Positioning the Games as a way “to get our economy moving again” in the wake of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, Black says preparing for the event in 2026 could be achieved with a CAD $1 billion (USD $787 million) budget.  The funding would be provided by the provincial and federal governments but would be returned to coffers before, during and after the Games due to increased tourism.

“The governments will get back half their contributions in taxes as the $1 billion is spent in the lead-up to 2026, and then earn more from increased tourism in subsequent years,” Black wrote.

“Municipalities and local citizens will not have to fund any part of the budget.”

Victoria 2022 Commonwealth Games bid logo

Victoria 2022 Commonwealth Games bid logo

Black also promised valuable legacies from the organization of the Games including needed housing units and important sport infrastructure.

“We will build another Commonwealth pool, another major ice arena with a European-sized rink, a major field house, a new cycling track, a number of hockey, lacrosse and cricket fields, a proper 2,000-metre rowing facility, and many other facility improvements and additions,” he wrote.

“We will have one Games sport in Vancouver, two in Richmond, and at least one in every Victoria-area municipality,” he added, promising that citizens will be closer to the Games then when the capital hosted in 1994.

Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC) Chief Brian MacPherson told that he was aware of the bid that he described as “in its exploratory stage.”

He added “CSC has yet to receive a draft 2026 CWGs Hosting Plan Proposal for review,” which is a prerequisite for a formal bid by the national governing body, but further commented that the new 2026 group is comprised of the same members of the failed 2022 bid and are already known to both CSC and the CGF.

A CGF spokesperson told “The CGF is aware of interest from Victoria B.C. in hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games and cognizant that discussions are taking place around using the multi-sport event as part of the post pandemic recovery plan for the Province.”

“The CGF welcomes the positive interest from Victoria B.C. in the Games while we continue to work closely with Commonwealth Sport Canada on the prospect of bringing the competition back to the country in the near future.”

This emerging hope will provide some comfort to the CGF as the organization has suffered several setbacks trying to site future Games.

Canadian city Hamilton in Ontario last year was given the exclusive opportunity to host the 2026 Games by the CGF if it could only pivot from the government approved 2030 target – and say ‘yes’.  Amid the coronavirus pandemic and due to planned 2026 FIFA World Cup matches in nearby Toronto, the provincial government has declined to fund the offer and the project sits in limbo.

Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games bid chair: “It’s time to be flexible”

Last week Hamilton 2026 Chair Lou Frapporti recognized that his bid was stalled indefinitely, and hinted that a project in Victoria was already underway.

Plans for Adelaide in Australia to bid for the 2026 Games were abandoned when the state government lacked interest in hosting the event.  Only last week a project from namesake Victoria in Australia put its bid to host in 2030 on hold due to uncertainty during the pandemic.

The CGF has previously indicated that Sri Lanka is interested in hosting in 2026 but no further details have been released.  The next Games are scheduled to be held in Birmingham, England in 2022.

Last week CGF CEO David Grevemberg announced that he will step down from his position in March with a successor not expected to be in place until the summer.

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