Future Commonwealth Games hosts will have greater flexibility to include popular local sports after a major change was approved today which it is hoped will make the event more attractive.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly, held online for a second consecutive year due to COVID-19, voted to back a new Strategic Roadmap which provides potential future hosts with the ability to be innovative and creative when putting together the sports programme.
The CGF is currently still searching for a host city in 2026 to follow Birmingham 2022.
CGF President Dame Louise Martin has claimed that the organisation "are working very closely with a number of potential host countries, who have asked to keep our discussions confidential" and that it hopes to announce a host city by the end of next March.
Under the new proposal, athletics and swimming will be the only two compulsory sports, given their historical place and having appeared on the programme since the first Games at Hamilton in 1930.
There will be more flexibility to choose from a wider list of core sports, including 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 CGF claims.
It could see the introduction of a sport like lacrosse if a Canadian city hosts the centenary edition of the Games.
To provide a blueprint for flexibility and certainty, the recommendation from the CGF is for approximately 15 sports to feature at the Commonwealth Games, with compromise available for the maximum number of sports.
The review has been overseen by David Leather, the chief executive of Commonwealth Games Federation Partnerships Limited, a joint venture between CGF and Sportfive, previously Lagardère Sports.
Leather had previously been the deputy chief executive of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and also the chief operating officer at Glasgow 2014.
"We are delighted to unveil our direction of travel with this new Strategic Roadmap, which I believe marks the start of an exciting new era for the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Sport," Dame Louise said.
"Our Games need to adapt, evolve and modernise to ensure we continue to maintain our relevance and prestige across the Commonwealth.
"After a long period of hard work and consultation, incorporating the views and opinions of our membership and experts across the world, we are excited to move forwards with this Roadmap.
"I would like to thank all our 72 Commonwealth Games Associations for their support.
"Our next step is to work closely with our International Federation partners to ensure they can contribute to the vision and direction of the Roadmap in order to underpin the future of the Games."
The CGF also plans to investigate more engagement with esports, although it stopped short of calling for its introduction into the main sports programme.
The review, however, did underline that an integrated Para sport programme must remain a key, focal part of the Games
The 2026-2030 Strategic Roadmap also offers more opportunity of co-hosting, potentially across several cities or even countries.
Future potential hosts are also to be encouraged to consider alternative athlete village solutions, rather than being required to accommodate athletes in a new-build environment or on a single site.
Birmingham 2022 has already adopted this model after abandoning plans for a single site Athletes’ Village and instead using university accommodation for next year’s Commonwealth Games.