London Should Bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games

London should bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

It would promote London’s vibrancy and ambition and be good for tourism, for business, and for jobs. It would also be a further powerful rationale to provoke investment in public transport in our city.

We cannot take our capital’s vibrancy and economic success for granted. A future Mayor needs to champion bringing major international sporting and cultural events to London to help promote the capital in the future. I have already made clear that London should bid for the European Capital of Culture in 2023, but after Glasgow’s great Games last summer, few will be in any doubt that London would benefit too from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

I have already been in conversation with the organisers of last year’s Glasgow games. They already had 70% of the sports stadia in place giving their organising team a huge logistical head start. London has an even stronger advantage in having world class sports facilities already available in virtually all the Commonwealth Games events. Whether it is South London’s Oval or Crystal Palace, East London’s Olympic Park, North London’s Lea Valley Cycling Velodrome or West London’s Twickenham and Wembley Stadium, the big venues are already in place, and that’s before a bid team begins to look at the myriad other possible venues for hosting parts of the Commonwealth Games.

10gareththomas1505aWe need to learn from the failure to build a lasting sporting legacy from the 2012 Olympics. And we also need to ensure this time every London borough benefits. Dagenham, Harrow, and Croydon residents need to feel the more homely Commonwealth Games is their Games, just as much as those boroughs where the big stadiums are sited. I would want to see groups of London boroughs working with the local business community to bid to host particular sports to help ensure the Games’ events are properly shared across the capital. And from early on in the bid team’s thinking, a clear, long-term, grassroots sports development plan needs to be in place.

Why might the Commonwealth want to hold their Games in London? London is the home of the Commonwealth and we haven’t held the Games in our capital since 1934.

The next time Britain can realistically bid for the Commonwealth Games is in 2026. London’s population is growing at the rate of 100,000 a year so by 2026 we’ll have over a million new citizens. Further investment in our public transport is essential and the hosting of the Commonwealth Games should be a further powerful incentive to promote Crossrail 2 and other public transport progress.

We need to lock in business involvement with the bid so that the Commonwealth Games is properly used to help expand British business opportunities in India, Pakistan, Australia and the other great nations of the Commonwealth. A Business Advisory Council supporting the Games organisers will be key to making the most of a successful London bid.

By 2026, London will need to have been given the extra powers other world cities already have, and which Wales and Scotland have secured. London, for example, should be able to control the income raised from property taxes in our own city to help us fund and organise the Games. Paris, New York and Madrid already have these powers and don’t have to go cap in hand to their equivalent of the man in Whitehall or the men in Downing Street every time they want to do something.

London needs to secure its future. We cannot take our capital’s vibrancy for granted. Given how much of a trading city we are, London needs to continue to promote itself as an international city with global reach. A third runway at Heathrow and a significant cut in the cost of public transport will all help make a critical difference, but hosting the Commonwealth Games would help too.

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