For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games, esports could be included in the 2030 event. That’s the promise if Canadian venue Hamilton emerges victorious in its bid to host the event, with trials set to take place in time for the 2026 event.
Katie Sadleir, the Commonwealth Games Federation chief, speaking to BBC Sport confirmed that the Canadian bid from the city of Hamilton – which was the first ever location for the games back in 1930 – “made it clear that esports would be part of that Games”.
Given that a return to Hamilton would co-incide with the 100th anniversary of the games, Hamilton is currently a strong favourite to win the bid.
And in a conversation with The Sports Desk Podcast, Sadleir commented that while the programme for the 2026 Victoria Commonwealth Games is yet to be confirmed “we are interested in providing opportunities for young people to achieve their potential and we think that that the huge growth in esports is really exciting,” she said.
Asian Games leads the esports invasion
esports are already set to feature at this year’s Asian Games in China – commencing 10th September – where up to eight medals in acclaimed video games like FIFA, Street Fighter V and League of Legends will count towards the overall standings. And while it’s too late for inclusion into the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – which begin on the 21st July – instead all gaming eyes will be the inaugural Commonwealth esports Championship, which will run alongside it with separate branding, medals and organisation.
So things are looking up for esports’ big mainstream break but, despite its skyrocketed growth of over the years, some people remain opposed to making gaming a part of the programme.
Sharron Davies, the former swimmer who took home a gold medal in the 1978 Commonwealth Games stated, “I would have loved to have seen the Commonwealth Games introduce things like parkour or BMX or skateboarding, which were so successful at the Olympics.
“I believe we should try to evolve [the Commonwealth Games] with physical activity sports that engage young people, not ones that require people to sit on their backside and use two fingers and their thumb.”Sharon Davies, Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning swimmer
The esports stage is set
Fortunately Sadleir feels differently, stating that, “We think it’s a good opportunity to learn from each other, to align ourselves with something that’s growing at such phenomenal rates for young people and the way that they’re looking at innovating themselves in terms of active esports opportunities.”
LDN UTD FIFA professional, Adam Ryan, who represented the Scotland national team believes that esports sends out the right message, stating that, “We’ve used gaming as a tool to address knife crime, racism. We had an event called All Access Gaming where we had 130,000 people watching. Why don’t we use gaming as a tool to promote exercise rather than just trying to rubbish it? It’s clear that the next generation are gaming.”
As for Hamilton’s 2030 promise and prospects for 2026, we’re crossing our fingers.