(ATR) The bid to bring the Commonwealth Games to Hamilton, Ontario in 2026 remains viable despite reports that the province of Ontario can't afford to support it.
Hamilton, Ontario would be the first Canadian city to host the Commonwealth Games since 1994. (Wikipedia)
The Hamilton 2026 bid team on Tuesday withdrew its scheduled request to go before the Hamilton City Council on Wednesday for a second presentation on its hosting proposal.
The decision followed comments made by Donna Skelly, a member of the Ontario Parliament from Hamilton, who told the CBC
that the economic fallout from Covid-19 means that the province can only afford one bid in 2026. Ontario has been working for some time to bring matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup to the province.
But Hamilton 2026 chairman Louis Frapporti says it's not time to write off the bid.
In a statement on Wednesday, Frapporti said "The Bid Committee will remain open to further discussions with the Province to align on timing and will continue to work tirelessly with the Commonwealth Sport Federation to bring the Games back to Canadian soil."
Ontario Premier Doug Ford met with a delegation of community leaders including the Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger late Tuesday to get clarity on the province's stance, Hamilton 2026 president PJ Mercanti revealed on a local radio show on Wednesday morning.
Frapporti, who was at the meeting, said it was "to discuss all possible hosting options as we look to create an innovative and fiscally responsible multi-sport Games focused on pandemic recovery and social impact."
Following the meeting, it was agreed that all options, including 2026, are being considered.
Skelly, while ruling out 2026, had said a bid for 2027 or 2030 could be supported in principle by Ontario.
Hamilton had originally wanted to host the centenary Games in 2030, since the city hosted the first edition – then called the British Empire Games – in 1930.
The Commonwealth Games Federation convinced Hamilton to pivot from 2030 to 2026 in April following the decision by Adelaide, Australia in September 2019 to withdraw its bid. The CGF sweetened the pot by giving the Canadian city exclusive bidding rights through the end of September.
Hamilton 2026 said in late August that it would miss that deadline to secure local, provincial and federal support for the project. An initial virtual presentation to the city council by the bid team on August 10 left some council members unhappy with the lack of details, chief among them the absence of a preliminary budget. They wanted to know the potential cost before giving their approval in principle for the bid.
"Although our work remains in its early stages, our venue plans and associated budget have now been submitted to the City and will be made available to the public as will additional information when available," Frapporti said on Wednesday.
Hamilton has tried and failed to land the Commonwealth Games in 1994, 2010 and 2014. Canada last hosted the Games in 1994 in Victoria.
As for where the CGF might go if an alternate bidder for 2026 is needed, CGF CEO David Grevemberg said during the August 10 meeting that India and Australia have expressed interest.
Written and reported by Gerard Farek
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