Future editions of the Commonwealth Games, from 2026 onwards, are set to only feature two compulsory sports – athletics and swimming – under a proposed strategic roadmap designed to give host cities more flexibility and drive down costs.

While next year’s games, scheduled to be held in Birmingham, UK, between 28 July and 8 August, will feature 19 sports (of which 16 are designated as mandatory) the Commonwealth Games Federation has now recommended that only “approximately 15 sports” feature at future games’ from 2026 onwards.

This change was approved, as part of the 2026-2030 CGF strategic roadmap, at the body’s general assembly yesterday by the various Commonwealth Games Associations.

Athletics and swimming would be given the protected status of being compulsory for several reasons, the CGF said as it outlined the proposed changes – their historical place in the programme, their popularity and their capacity for inclusivity and gender balance.

While another 21 events have been listed as core sports, there would be no definite requirement for host cities to include any one of them in their programme, and the local organising bodies would have much more choice as to what their programmes looked like.

The CGF has also said that, from now on, there will be no fundamental requirement for future host cities to have an athletes’ village and is instead encouraging other options which would reduce costs.

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The CGF has said: “As part of ongoing consultation with international federations, there are ambitions for a revised sports programme to provide hosts with more flexibility to choose from a wider list of core sports.

"This will now include disciplines that have previously been listed as optional sports such as Twenty20 cricket, beach volleyball, and 3×3 basketball.

"This will allow hosts the ability to propose entirely new sports, relevant to their nation or culture, to enhance cultural showcasing and community engagement."

In making these changes, the CGF believes it will make hosting games more attractive to cities around the world, with recent editions having struggled to attract bidders. 

Despite its intention to have a host in place for the 2026 Commonwealth Games by 2019, there has still been no final decision made.

Hamilton in Canada has been the CGF’s preferred host city for the last 18 months, but the governing body has so far been unable to get a successful bid over the line.

If that city pulls out, then sources have reported that Australia, Sri Lanka and India are also being considered as options.

However, Dame Louise Martin, the CGF's president, has now told BBC Sport she is confident that a host city for the games in five years' time will be in place by the first quarter of 2022.

She added, on the changes to the mandatory sports' allocation: “Our games need to adapt, evolve and modernise to ensure we continue to maintain our relevance and prestige across the commonwealth.

”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.”

She continued: "What we have to do is find the sports that the youth of today work with. So nothing is off the table."

The CGF has confirmed that over the next few months, engagement will continue with the national associations and international federations “in line with the vision, intent, and direction of the roadmap.”