Commonwealth Games: compulsory sports split in two – athletics and swimming – to give host cities a choice

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Surfing is a sport that could be included in future Commonwealth Games

The number of mandatory sports Commonwealth Games hosts will need to host in the future is expected to drop from 16 to just two.

As part of a new “strategic roadmap” designed to safeguard the future of the event, only athletics and swimming will benefit from protected status.

While Games bosses struggle to convince cities to bid for the event, the redesign is designed to give potential hosts more choices over their schedule.

In addition to greater freedom to select urban and electronic sports in an effort to appeal to a younger audience, cities will be encouraged to select entirely new disciplines that are popular locally.

In order to reduce costs and innovate, co-hosting will be encouraged and there will be no requirement for an athlete village.

However, there will inevitably be anxiety in the many sports whose place in the program will no longer be compulsory.

And for non-Olympic sports like squash, netball and lawn bowling – for which the Commonwealth Games are the highlight of their calendar – the reforms will be of particular concern.

“Our Games need to adapt, evolve and modernize to ensure that we continue to maintain our relevance and prestige,” said Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Dame Louise Martin.

She said the roadmap, approved at a CGF General Assembly meeting, “marks the start of an exciting new era for the Games.”

Nineteen sports will feature in Birmingham 2022, but the new proposals recommend reducing to around 15 for the 2026 event.

According to the CGF, athletics and swimming are protected “because of their historic place on the program since 1930, and based on universality, participation, dissemination, spectator interest, para-inclusion and gender balance ”.

The list of mandatory base sports has fluctuated considerably over the years.

There are 16 for Birmingham 2022; athletics (including para-athletics), badminton, boxing, road cycling, artistic gymnastics, hockey, judo, pétanque (including para-bowls), netball, rugby sevens, squash, swimming (including para-swimming), table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting / weightlifting and freestyle wrestling.

Organizers could then choose from a predetermined list of optional sports, including diving, basketball (3×3 and wheelchair), mountain biking, track and time trial cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, para-triathlon, beach volleyball, cricket. women’s T20 and para-table tennis selected for Birmingham.

By limiting the number of compulsory sports to athletics and swimming, the new roadmap will allow hosts to choose between surfing, skateboarding and rock climbing – all new to the Olympic program – as well as e-sports.

Sports that are particularly popular in a host country – such as lacrosse in Canada or kabaddi in India – would also be encouraged.

All sports will now enter a consultation period, but an insider from an international federation said the plans “will keep everyone on their toes.”

“Let [hosts] choose what they want to have, what they can do and who they can share with to host the event, “Dame Louise told BBC Sport.

“I think it would be a win-win situation for everyone as it would then open the Commonwealth Games to other smaller countries and for me that is the way to go.

“What we need to do is find the sports that young people today are working with. So nothing is out of place.”

According to insiders, Australia, Canada, India and Sri Lanka have expressed interest in hosting the 2026 Games but, so far, no host has been found.

“I am quietly confident that we will announce [the 2026 host] in the first quarter of next year, before Birmingham, ”said Dame Louise. “We work with cities and countries.

“I hope that next year we can show that you can bring in other countries to host them together. We have tried to get the smaller countries to host Games, but they are too small for it. do as it is.

“That’s why we are looking at the roadmap, to see what is needed, what we really need to do. If someone has a fantastic athletics stadium but the neighboring country has a fantastic shooting range, connect you and see what we can do. “

In other approved recommendations, the roadmap states that an integrated parasport program should remain a key part of the Games and that mass events would also be encouraged.

In 2017, Durban was stripped of the right to host the 2022 Games after a series of missed deadlines and financial problems, underscoring the burdens that host cities face for major sporting events.

The CGF was left with a choice of just two replacement cities – Birmingham and Liverpool.

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