New sports for Commonwealth Games

LONDON • Athletics and swimming are set to be the only compulsory sports at future Commonwealth Games under a proposed "strategic road map" to give hosts more flexibility, increase the event's appeal and drive down costs.

Next year's Games scheduled to be held in Birmingham, England from July 28 to Aug 8 will feature 19 sports - 16 of which are deemed compulsory - but the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has recommended that "approximately 15 sports" feature at future editions from the 2026 event onwards.

The CGF is still searching for a host city for the 2026 Games, which according to insiders, Australia, Canada, India and Sri Lanka have expressed interest in staging.

Athletics and swimming would be afforded protected status due to their historical place in the programme, popularity, para (sport) inclusion and gender balance, the CGF said in a statement on Monday.

"As part of an ongoing consultation with international federations, there are ambitions for a revised sport programme to provide hosts with more flexibility to choose from a wider list of core sports," the statement read.

"This will now include disciplines that have previously been listed as optional sports such as T20 cricket, beach volleyball and 3x3 basketball.

"This will allow hosts the ability to propose entirely new sports, relevant to their nation or culture, to enhance cultural showcasing and community engagement."

The change will allow hosts the freedom to choose the likes of surfing, skateboarding, climbing and karate - which are all new to the Olympic programme - along with e-sports.

The CGF added there would be no requirement for future hosts to have an athletes' village, instead encouraging alternative solutions to reduce costs.

"We are delighted to unveil our direction of travel with this new strategic road map, which I believe marks the start of an exciting new era for the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Sport," CGF president Louise Martin said.

"Our Games need to adapt, evolve and modernise to ensure we continue to maintain our relevance and prestige across the Commonwealth.

"Our next step is to work closely with our international federation partners to ensure they can contribute to the vision and direction of the road map in order to underpin the future of the Games."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2021, with the headline 'New sports for Commonwealth Games'. Subscribe