Commonwealth Games 2020: How the 2026 Victorian Games Will Change the Event

The Commonwealth Games regional model adopted by Victoria for 2026 aims to pave the way for nations previously unable to host to dream of welcoming countries from around the world.

Victoria’s Commonwealth Games 2026 – where regional cities will host major sporting events – is set to become a model for other countries in the future.

Katie Sadlier, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation the herald sun African nations showed interest in games of a similar nature, with events spread across cities and towns.

“The games are tremendous exercise if you do them alone in one place. So we are very excited and open to the development of hosting the Games in several Victorian centres,” said Ms Sadlier.

“Having Australia first to run something that isn’t on one side is really exciting and I’m confident they will do a fantastic job.”

Ms Sadlier said the Victorian plan includes economic renewal as well as the development of sporting centers of excellence.

Craig Phillips, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games Australia said: “We see this as an opportunity to develop a sustainable model, which is the idea that an entire nation, say New Zealand, could host games in multiple cities and communities and potentially cross-border hospitality .

“So I think the importance of Victoria 2026 to us is if we can make it work and it works well then it expands the number of nations that could host the games.”

Small Commonwealth countries are expected to rely on a successful staging of the 2026 Victorian Games to allow future games offerings from a coalition of either Pacific or African countries.

There is also a major push to provide more qualifying spots for competitors from smaller countries to compete in Victoria.

Victoria’s plan to host up to 21 sports across four regional hubs is a new template for Games organizers and is intended to give small countries and regions the confidence to bid for future Games.

Mr Phillips said the concept is to have games branding across the board so that international television audiences will see “Victoria Games”.

But within that there would be room for the regional hubs to bring their own ‘flavor’.

“Like working with the Ballarat community in embracing them so that athletes in boxing and track and field and whatever have the Ballarat experience as part of the broader Victorian experience. I think it’s a great way to connect with the community,” he said.

The Victorian government plans to upgrade various sporting facilities in the four regional centers of Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Gippsland at a cost of US$2.6 billion to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Around 4500 athletes are expected to compete at Victoria 2026 and there will be around 2500 auxiliaries as part of the 72 nations delegations.

Organizers are also in intense talks with Australian football codes, including the Victorian Football League and Formula 1, to avoid clashes as games take place from 17-29 March 2026.

The shoulder mines in Victoria could also be adapted to allow school children to take part in the celebrations.

Geelong will host Australia’s most successful sport, swimming, as well as diving, triathlon, table tennis, hockey, gymnastics and beach volleyball.

Ballarat will see athletics and boxing, while Bendigo will host cycling, lawn bowls, weightlifting, squash and netball.

Gippsland will host badminton, cycling and rugby sevens.

T20 cricket is intended to be played across all four hubs.

Following the Victorian model, games are split into four regional hubs, each essentially having a small game focus, with an overarching regional message.

Athletes will be housed in athletes’ villages being built in all four areas, with the Games building program helping to address the regions’ lack of social and affordable housing.

Athletics, swimming, bowling, triathlon, table tennis and powerlifting will also include parasports competitions.

The Victorian Government, which expects to raise $3 billion from hosting the Games, has dispatched an observer team led by Victoria 2026 Chief Executive Jeroen Weimar and a team of Police and Tourism Officers to Birmingham to monitor all aspects of the Games examine logistics and organization behind the scenes.

Mr Weimar, who led the Victorian government’s Covid-19 response, told the Commonwealth Games Federation members meeting in Birmingham that he expected three or four additional sports to be added to the Victoria programme.

The UCI, the world cycling governing body, in conjunction with representatives from Cycling Australia, have campaigned for track cycling to be included in the Games schedule by upgrading the Melbourne Velodrome at Darebin. The success of hosting the track events in London last week but still branding them as part of the Birmingham Games was seen as important.

Other sports such as shooting, surf lifesaving, dragon boat racing, archery, surfing, skateboarding and e-games have submitted entries to be considered for Victoria 2026. A final decision on the sports of the Games in the Victoria program is expected to be made by October this year.

Originally published as How the 2026 Victorian Commonwealth Games will change the event for the future Commonwealth Games 2020: How the 2026 Victorian Games Will Change the Event

Nate Jones

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