|Host city||Victoria (Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland), Australia|
|Nations participating||74 commonwealth nations (expected)|
|Opening ceremony||Melbourne Cricket Ground|
|Main venue||Kardinia Park, Geelong |
Eureka Stadium, Ballarat
|Website||Victoria 2026 Website|
The 2026 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XXIII Commonwealth Games and commonly known as Victoria 2026, is a multi-sport event for members of the Commonwealth scheduled to take place in four regional sites in the State of Victoria, Australia (Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland), with the opening ceremonies to be held in Melbourne at the MCG. In a departure from previous Commonwealth Games, the event will not be held in one major city but will be hosted by the state and held across a number of regional cities.
The host city was initially intended to be selected at the 2019 CGF General Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda. On 16 June 2019, the CGF confirmed that it would decide the host city in 2020, but the lack of interest from cities and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the announcement. In December 2021, the CGF reported that it would announce a host some time in March 2022, however, Victoria was announced as the host on 12 April 2022, after two months of an exclusive dialogue process with the CGF.
Further information: Bids for the 2026 Commonwealth Games
During the CGF General Assembly on 31 March 2017 in Gold Coast, after the troubled 2022 Commonwealth Games host city bid process, the executive board announced that it had planned to award both 2026 and 2030 Commonwealth Games simultaneously at the CGF General Assembly scheduled for Kigali, Rwanda in September 2019. A new model called CGF Partnerships (CGFP) was implemented. This aims to give stronger support to the associations and cities that show interests in hosting future Games, and enhance the overall value of the event. This is similar to the process used by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2017. In January 2022 the Victorian State Government announced it was giving serious consideration to a late request from the CGF to host the Games. On 16 February 2022, Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews confirmed that the state was in exclusive negotiations with the CGF to host the Games. It was stated that if successful in hosting the Games a second time, a Victorian bid would aim to emphasise the state's regional centres – such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo – as opposed to being predominantly Melbourne-based, such as in 2006. Bendigo had previously hosted the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games. Acceptance of the bid will likely also be conditional upon agreement on ways to control costs, such as housing athletes and officials in hotels rather than a dedicated village. This bid was confirmed as successful on 12 April 2022.
In May 2022 the Victorian State Government allocated $2.6 billion to deliver the Commonwealth Games in the years leading to 2026. This money will be used to build housing, infrastructure and athletes hubs in each of the four regional sites. The Andrews Government said that the priority was to use existing facilities as much as possible, with spending concentrated on supporting infrastructure. The games are to be held in March to avoid clashes with the Australian Football League calendar in Melbourne.
While little is known of the exact venues which will be constructed or upgraded for the games, several potential and interim facilities have been discussed, including an upgraded Eureka Stadium, which will likely have its seated capacity brought up from 5,127 to approximately 20,000, with temporary grandstands expanding it to 30,000 for the games. New lighting for the stadium as well as the addition of a nearby permanent athletics track are also expected for the upgrades.
In Geelong, the City Hall has identified the construction of a new indoor arena to host the gymnastics and table tennis events as a “priority project”. While the hockey venue has not yet been determined, the use of Stead Park for the sport has been "reported", which, according to Hockey Australia CEO David Pryles, would need to be upgraded to host up to 10,000 fans. Additionally, the Geelong deputy mayor Trent Sullivan has hinted at several possible venues for the games, including using Eastern Beach as a venue for triathlon and beach volleyball, the newly redeveloped Kardinia Park for cricket T20, and new or upgraded facilities to host aquatics.
Shepparton has also been discussed as another host city for the games, although no events accredited to the town have been stated on the initial list of venues.
It is expected that the Midland Highway, which links four host cities (Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton) will receive upgrades in time for the games, with the possibility of a new northern train station to be constructed in Ballarat adjacent to Eureka Stadium.
An athlete's village will be built in the four host cities, with the villages to be converted to social and affordable housing after the Games.
Under new rules designed to encourage cities to bid for the Commonwealth Games, the GCF required only two sports must be played in future Games: athletics and swimming. Despite this, sixteen sports were agreed to for the 2026 Victorian Games, with a further seven the subject of discussion between the governing bodies and the Victorian Government. The list includes T20 Cricket, for which a women's tournament is being held at Birmingham 2022, alongside the following: swimming and diving, athletics, badminton, boxing, beach volleyball, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby sevens, squash, table tennis, triathlon and weightlifting. In April 2022 the Indian Olympic Association demanded that the 2026 Games also include archery, shooting and wrestling. The final list of sports is expected to be announced by the end of 2022.
Venues will mostly be located within Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and the Gippsland region. Melbourne will host the opening ceremonies, acting as a gateway to the four main regional athletics sites. The current list is open to change, and further venues are to be named in late 2022. The Victorian State Budget on 3 May 2022 allocated overall funding for the Games but planning work for the redevelopment of venues is ongoing.
The hockey venue in Geelong has yet to be determined, although Stead Park has been reported.