Victoria will host the 2026 Commonwealth Games with the Australian state’s regional centres organising the majority of events in a break from the traditional single host city model. The Games will be staged in March 2026 across multiple cities and regional hubs including Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland, each with its own athletes’ village.
The opening ceremony will take place at the iconic 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced on Tuesday. The announcement follows an exclusive dialogue period between the CGF, Commonwealth Games Australia (CGAus) and Victoria.
An initial list of 16 sports, including Twenty20 cricket, have been put forward for the Games, with further sports to be added later this year. The initial list, however, does not feature disciplines such as shooting and wrestling, sports in which India has done well in the previous editions of the sporting extravaganza. Archery also does not feature in the list.
National Rifle Association of India’s secretary-general, Kunwar Sultan Singh called the CGF’s decision as being without any “logic or reasoning”.
“It’s disheartening, shocking and utterly illogical to exclude shooting from the CWG for the second successive edition. It’s unfair on shooters preparing worldwide for such a major multi-sport event. I would request the Indian government and the IOA to take up the matter with the concerned authorities in the CGF to get the sport included in the Games programme for Victoria 2026,” Singh told TOI.
“A concerted effort is needed on the part of the government and IOA to get this decision reversed. United World Wrestling must do something to ensure that wrestling gets its deserved spot back in the CWG.” TOI quoted a Wrestling Federation of India official.
Indian wrestlers had won 12 medals, including five golds, as the country’s shooters had clinched 16 medals, including seven golds. As for archery, which has featured in only two editions of CWG with the last being in 2010, India had won eight medals in New Delhi, including three golds.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said: “It’s a great honour to have Victoria chosen as the host venue for the 2026 Commonwealth Games – we can’t wait to welcome the world to all of our state. “The Commonwealth Games in regional Victoria is great for jobs, hospitality and our economy.” Australia has staged the Commonwealth Games on five occasions, with Victoria playing host to the Melbourne 2006 Games; widely considered one of the most successful editions of the event in history.
The country has also staged the Games in Sydney in 1938, Perth in 1962, Brisbane in 1982 and most recently Gold Coast in 2018. Victoria has also hosted the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo in 2004. CGF President Dame Louise Martin said: “The Commonwealth Games Federation is absolutely delighted to award the 2026 Commonwealth Games to Victoria.
“Commonwealth Games Australia and the Victorian Government have set out a bold and innovative vision for hosting our major multi-sport event. In Victoria, we believe we have found the perfect partner for the next stage of our journey.”
As per the CGF’s new “strategic roadmap” unveiled at its 2021 General Assembly on October 11, athletics and swimming will be the only compulsory sports in the CWG from the 2026 edition, allowing host cities greater freedom to include disciplines of their choice from a proposed core list of 22 sports. The proposed core list of the Commonwealth Games Federation after a review includes shooting, wrestling and archery. Disciplines that have previously been listed as optional sports such as T20 cricket, beach volleyball and 3×3 basketball were also brought under the proposed core list of sports. The roadmap was approved at the CGF’s General Assembly, which was held virtually last year.
The 2026 Games will be the 23rd edition of the major multi-sport competition, which first began in Hamilton, Canada in 1930. Victoria is a world-leading major events and tourism destination. The state has a strong track record for staging high profile sporting competitions including The Australian Open tennis grand slam, the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Melbourne Cup. The state also regularly hosts elite cricket, golf and Australian Rules Football competition.
(With inputs from PTI)