Event needs to be leaner and easier to host, Martin tells Inside the Games
Review of sports programme already underway by CGF
No bids have been submitted for 2026 Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games’ current model is “not sustainable” and the multi-sport event is set to be downsized after Birmingham 2022, according to Louise Martin, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).
Speaking to Inside the Games, Martin (pictured above) explained that the Commonwealth Games need to be smaller, easier and less costly to host, and that further change had to be implemented to help the event appeal to a younger audience.
“We can’t stay as we are – it’s not sustainable. We have to move on, we have to modernise,” said Martin.
“In my opinion Birmingham will be the last one of this size. In the future it will be more in keeping with what the country it’s going to wants.”
The CGF’s push for change includes a review of the sports programme, which some onlookers feel has become too bloated. Birmingham 2022 will feature 270 medal events, 19 sports and 4,500 athletes.
“It has to be reviewed without a doubt,” Martin added. “It’s not working for us because it’s very difficult to control.”
The decision on which sports will be axed falls to the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations.
Study: Commonwealth Games brings in more than UK£1bn for host cities
It is hoped that a leaner, more modern Games will encourage bidders for the 2026 edition. Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka have all been linked with bids, but no nation has officially declared its intention to host the event. In contrast, the 2014 and 2018 Games, which were held in Glasgow and Australia’s Gold Coast, respectively, were awarded seven years out.
Birmingham was named host in 2017, replacing Durban after the South African city could no longer stage the event due to financial constraints. It would have been the first time the Games had been held in Africa.
“We’re going through a sticky patch at the moment, yes, because of all the vagaries of Covid-19 and cost-wise, but in the future I see the Commonwealth Games going from strength to strength in a completely different way to the way it’s been done in the past,” said Martin.
“Modernise it, change it.”
The impending overhaul has also been influenced by the desire to make the Commonwealth Games more attractive to Asian nations, including prospective hosts from the continent.
Inside the Games noted that only six per cent of the Commonwealth’s combined population of 2.4 billion live outside Asia and Africa, yet those two continents between them have hosted only one Commonwealth Games.
The Olympic sports news outlet added that nearly two thirds of those 2.4 billion are aged under 30, and more than half live in India. The country is predicted by a United Nations report to become the world’s most populous country before 2030, which coincides with the Commonwealth Games’ centenary year.
“We have to keep reviewing our sports, we have to stay relevant to where we are at the time,” said Martin.
“It’s no good any more to sit back and say ‘We’ve always done