Sri Lanka has emerged as a possible contender to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026, a National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) official revealed this week.
When asked by Ceylon Today a senior official said “we are keen and capable of handling the bid process and hosting if Government permits.”
“We have a rough estimation and we are seeking Government guidance about expenditure, and if we receive the green light we will go ahead with the 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.
Earlier this year the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) gave Hamilton in Canada the exclusive opportunity to host the Games in 2026, asking the city to pivot from its ongoing 2030 bid that had already received government approvals. But last month Province of Ontario officials refused to support the new timeline, noting a calendar conflict with the 2026 FIFA World Cup where nearby Toronto is expected to host matches as part of a United States, Mexico and Canada united tournament.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford instead gave a thumbs up for a Games in 2027 or beyond.
The CGF says it is not looking to change the dates of its quadrennial multi-sport event across the Commonwealth, but admitted there has been no official request from Canadian officials to consider 2027. The CGF is already two-years behind its typical schedule for selecting a host, and with a pandemic raging across the globe its possible the organization might accommodate new dates.
Athletes in Adelaide tried to rally a bid in Australia but failed last month when government officials nixed the project. Interest from India to host a Commonwealth Games has been ongoing, but the CGF may be cautious with such a project after the Delhi 2010 Games experienced delays and corruption.
Birmingham in the U.K. is set to host the event in 2022 after it was elected as a replacement only four years ahead of the event – Durban in South Africa was stripped of those Games for missing financial milestones . There is no set timeline for the election of the 2026 host but the CGF is likely to lock in the first qualified proposal it sees as the Opening Ceremony draws closer.
The door remains ajar for Sri Lanka and a project that the CGF reported could be an important stimulus for post-COVID economic recovery in host nations, according to a study it commissioned earlier this year.
“Capital expenditure will be an investment for the country’s sports, especially when we look at the Birmingham 2022 plans of building a fully-fledged international sports university with all facilities for the Games, which will help in hosting events as well accommodation of athletes and officials,” the NOCSL official said.
The CGF has claimed it is involved in “private discussions” with some jurisdictions about a 2026 Games bid, but has yet to mention any names. Meanwhile, spokespeople for the CGF and Hamilton 2026 say negotiations around the Canadian bid continue.