Christchurch open to hosting ‘future’ Commonwealth Games as CGF considers other options for 2026

The news from New Zealand means the CGF will have to look elsewhere for potential hosts of the 2026 and 2030 editions and could break up the event into a series of championships

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony (Photo: Birmingham 2022)
Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony (Photo: Birmingham 2022)

Christchurch city council voted Wednesday to consider a bid to host a future Commonwealth Games without naming the year that would be targeted to bring the event back to New Zealand.

On the 50th anniversary of the city’s 1974 Commonwealth Games opening Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger was hoping to have city council consider a 2030 bid, but after tense negotiations councilors compromised and voted 10-7 in favor of a possible future Games that could include 2034 or beyond.

According to Radio New Zealand several protestors and councilors pushed back on the proposal that would take focus away from local infrastructure projects and dealing with the climate crisis. One councilor suggested that the city was taking the unnecessary initiative and that the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC, the domestic governing body for the Commonwealth Games) should instead take the lead on a national bid for the project.

RNZ reported that the NZOC is already targeting to host a 2034 edition.

NZOC chief executive Nicki Nicols said in a statement that it had “entered a formal dialogue with the Commonwealth Games Federation regarding a 2034 nationwide bid”.

“This timeframe provides sufficient runway to engage government and other relevant agencies to develop an innovative and bold proposal for a potential 2034 bid, including undertaking a formal feasibility study,” she said.

Christchurch city staff will initiate a study on the prospects for a future Commonwealth Games and report back to city council.

In addition to the 1974 Games, New Zealand previously hosted the event in Auckland in 1950 and 1990.

The news from New Zealand means the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) will have to look elsewhere for potential hosts of the 2026 and 2030 editions. The organization is desperate to find an offer to stage the next Games on short notice after Australia’s Victoria canceled plans to host for financial reasons after it had been elected unopposed in April 2022.

Efforts to find a replacement have fallen flat with an initially promising proposal from Gold Coast to reprise its successful 2018 Games failing to materialize and a 2030 bid by Canadian province Alberta cancelled when funding was denied.

The CGF has admitted that it could delay the Games by one year until 2027 to allow more time for a new region to organize, but recent reports suggest the it may take even more drastic measures to sustain the Games at least until its centenary edition in 2030.

Last month The Times reported that officials are considering breaking up the event into a series of championships for individual sports that could be staged at different times and places.

In November CGF chief Katie Sadleir addressed rising concerns that other plans might need to be considered for the future of the 2026 edition, and said “our aim is to be in a situation early in the new year to make a call on where a Games might go in 2026, 2027 or whether or not we might do something a bit different.”

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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