Athletics and swimming will be the only compulsory sports at the 2026 and 2030 Commonwealth Games as hosts are afforded greater flexibility in choosing a suitable programme for their audience and budget.
The number of compulsory sports has been reduced from 16 to two in the new strategic roadmap approved by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on Monday, which provides the bidding framework for future hosts.
The optimum number of sports will be 15, with countries given the flexibility to offer fewer or more than that, with 10 the minimum. Co-hosting within regions or across cities, along with mass participation events making use of facilities or linked to the Games, will also be among the “innovative concepts” encouraged among bidders.
It could even allow for events to be hosted across continents.
The last Games with 15 sports, and only two core sports, was Manchester in 2002, since when the programme has increased.
Bidders will also be able to propose the inclusion of sports of cultural relevance in that particular country – such as kabaddi in India or lacrosse in Canada for instance.
The changes will also give hosts the flexibility to add urban sports or esports to their programme.
Sports that have been optional in the past – such as T20 cricket and three v three basketball – have now moved on to a 22-strong core sports list.
The provision of a bespoke athletes’ village will no longer be a requirement for a host city, but an integrated para sport programme must remain a key, focal part of any Games.
The changes have been made to provide greater flexibility to would-be hosts, recognising the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the ability to put on a multi-sport Games.
CGF president Dame Louise Martin said: “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.
“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.”