The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has expanded its host city search for the 2026 edition of the quadrennial multi-sport event beyond Hamilton, GamesBids.com has learned, and discussions are already underway with Australia and Sri Lanka.
Last year Hamilton in Canada had been offered the exclusive opportunity to bid for those Games, but in October the Province of Ontario told bid officials that a 2026 Games had to be taken off the table because the FIFA World Cup set to be staged in Canada, United States and Mexico had already been prioritized for the same year.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford instead endorsed a possible Games in 2027 or beyond. CGF officials said they wouldn’t rule out pushing the scheduled Games for 2026 to 2027, but claimed that the Hamilton bid committee has yet to ask for that option. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, several planned major sports events have been delayed.
But a CGF spokesperson emphasized that serious discussions with the province continue, and stakeholders “are setting up a cross-departmental working group to consider hosting the Games [in Hamilton].”
“It’s an important step as [it] represents the first formal engagement of the Ontario Government in the process,” GamesBids.com was told Wednesday.
The spokesperson said that hosting in 2026, 2027 or 2030 remain options for the Canadian city that launched the inaugural British Empire Games in 1930, but that the year is “probably secondary to the review from the working group” that will decide whether Ontario will pursue a bid for a future Games.
Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC) CEO Brian MacPherson confirmed with GamesBids.com that active dialogue with the CGF continues, but cautioned that it might take some time. He also acknowledged that Hamilton’s exclusivity with the CGF for 2026 has likely ended as the “CGF say they are entertaining expressions of interest for hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games from other countries.”
The CGF spokesperson confirmed that “discussions are ongoing with Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka over potential bids for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.”
India had previously been interested in bidding for the 2026 event, but was not mentioned at this time.
Last month a senior official from the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) told reporters that his organization was waiting for a “green light” from the government with “guidance about expenditure” before moving forward with a bid.
Sri Lanka in 2011 forwarded a bid from Hambantota to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but the project was defeated by Gold Coast, Australia with a vote of 43 to 27.
A group in Adelaide had been pushing for a bid to host in 2026, but government officials said in October that they weren’t interested in the opportunity – effectively ending plans. But according the the update from the CGF, Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) remains interested in the opportunity, and they may be looking at other states.
The CGF is already behind in its timeline to site the 2026 Games, with a host city originally scheduled to be elected no later than 2019. Problems began when Durban, South Africa was stripped of the 2022 Games after missing important financial milestones, and bids previously lined up for 2026 instead hastily drew up plans for 2022. Birmingham in the UK was ultimately chosen to host those Games.
Hamilton had been targeting the 2030 centennial edition but the CGF steered the city towards 2026 instead when no other credible options emerged.
CGF officials have yet to say when they hope to announce a winner of the Games.