Commonwealth Games Abandons Esports After Inaugural Event
It has been revealed that the 2026 Commonwealth Games, due to be held in Victoria, Australia, will not feature ‘competitive gaming’. This news comes mere weeks after a relatively successful inaugural event that was held at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. While the ‘Commonwealth Esports Championships‘ tournament operated independently of the Commonwealth Games, it was under the same roof, and there were high expectations that it would return.
In August 2022, a partnership between the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Global Esports Federation brought about the Commonwealth Esports Championships. It was a coming together of several world nations, bringing them to a grand stage to compete in eFootball, Rocket League, and Dota 2. Reportedly, the inclusion of esports was an attempt to reach a ‘younger audience’, but it’s possible that strategy wasn’t all that effective.
Esports Out of the Action
For a while, it seemed as though the Commonwealth Esports Championships would be a landmark moment for the industry. It was another step on the path to legitimacy in the eyes of an audience unfamiliar with the concept of competitive gaming. While the esports industry is in the midst of a boom and becoming more popular with each passing day, there’s still a lot of resistance from traditional sports fans and from those that perhaps don’t understand the potential of esports as an ecosystem.
This was a notion that was touched upon by Katie Sadleir, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, in the run-up to August’s event:
‘Some people think it’s great, some people don’t. But anyone who goes and experiences it, it changes your mind. I’m absolutely passionate about trying to do things that are innovative, that are new, and that are keeping up with trend.’
Despite that encouraging sentiment, esports will not make an appearance at the Victoria 2026 event. While the Dota 2, eFootball, and Rocket League tournaments were considerably successful in August, the CGF has sadly backtracked on expectations to make esports a regular occurrence at future Commonwealth Games events.
However, there has been no concrete confirmation as to why this decision was made. Reportedly, the President of the CGF herself, Dame Louise Martin, had ‘expected it to be included going forward’. There have been claims made that the ‘older members’ driving the organisation of the games put up a staunch resistance to competitive gaming. Furthermore, there are suggestions circulating that doping is at the heart of the decision to turn back against esports.
In an article penned by the BBC, it was surmised that constant drug testing would prove to be an issue among esports competitors. This was backed by the claim that Adderall usage in esports is a prevalent concern, and there were resource and logistical concerns behind ‘comprehensive drug testing’.
If there’s one positive to take away from this news, it’s that esports isn’t off the table forever. In 2030, the Commonwealth Games will be held in Canada, and there’s every chance that competitive gaming could make a valiant return.