The corporation looking to bring the Commonwealth Games to Hamilton says the 2026 games are off the table.
Spokesperson and chair for the Hamilton bid Lou Frapporti told Global News the committee will now pivot back to the 2030 edition of the games, citing the province’s decision not to support the 2026 games and the unlikelihood of the games federation allowing for a move to 2027 as the reasons.
“We felt we really had no choice but to return back to the initial focus which we had, a 2030 centenary bid,” said Frapporti.
The groups’ initial pitch to the city and province was to bid for the 2030 games, which coincide with the centenary of the inaugural games held in Hamilton. That pitch would later become a potential 2026 bid after the games federation invited the group to make a play for the games exclusively with no competitive bids.
The change would have seen a smaller version of the games due to lack of preparation time, which meant the scaling down of competitions, athletes and venues.
However, the move back to a 2030 bid will mean the event will now return to a full complement of about 21 sports, and over 4,000 athletes.
“There’s going to be clearly a much larger sport program, more athletes, more spectators, more culture and celebration because it’s the 100th anniversary,” said Frapporti.
The chance of the 2026 games landing in Hamilton took a hit in October 2020 when Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly suggested to Global News the province was not likely to back the 2026 games over COVID-19 pandemic concerns and missing “detail” in an application and proposal for provincial funding.
Not long after, a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford’s office told Global News the province was more interested in asking the Commonwealth Games Federation for a 2027 pitch over other concerns involving portions of the 2026 World Cup of soccer slated for Toronto.
“No doubt the the second wave and now more recent third wave of the pandemic kind of got in the way of a lot of the momentum that was being built and affected the efficiency and speed of some government responses,” president of the Hamilton 100 group P.J. Mercanti told Global News.
Frapporti says the final costing for the 2030 bid has not yet been developed but expects it to be less than the initial bid approved by government, and “materially more” than the 2026 downsized bid.
The group will now go back to Commonwealth Support Canada, their partners, to finalize a sport and hosting plan, which is expected to be completed over the next few weeks.
The partners will then take the concept to all levels of government in Canada.
“The end result of that, we hope, would be a final multi-party agreement and a final bid for submission internationally to the federation for its consideration.”