Organisers for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, which are set to take place in Victoria, Australia, have confirmed that esports will not be appearing at the event, despite the success of the pilot event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The BBC has confirmed that the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has decided against including esports in future events – although requests for an explanation or comment have reportedly been rejected so far. The reason for the scrapping of the program remains unclear.
The Birmingham pilot program was a joint effort from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Global Esports Federation (GEF), and included teams from around the world. A CGF spokesperson reportedly called the event a success following the conclusion of proceedings, and stated it would likely be included in future events ‘going forward’.
Esports was seen as a potential gateway to generate more interest from young people in the Games, and to keep the popularity of the program alive. Games like eFootball, Rocket League, and Dota 2 brought interest from passionate fanbases, with hundreds tuning in to watch live-streamed events.
A lack of firm answers from the Commonwealth organisers has led to much speculation about why esports has been removed from the 2026 Games program. Sources speaking to the BBC reportedly have ‘no idea’ why the committee rejected the inclusion, but alleged that the traditional, older nature of members in the organisation may have led to a lack of understanding or desire.
Another factor may have been the control of drug use and doping in esports. Over the last few years, there have been several reports of players using focus-enhancing drugs like Adderall to improve performance – and controlling this in an esports environment is particularly difficult.
Adderall for competitive advantage is banned at the Commonwealth Games, and drug testing is fairly strict. As the BBC notes, the 2022 esports pilot program was not subject to drug testing, with none of the 100 competing players tested ahead of playing.
This likely presents a risk for the CGF and organisers – although whether this was the deciding factor in barring esports from the 2026 Commonwealth Games is currently unknown. At this stage, all we know is the pilot program will not be expanded, as esports won’t feature in the next iteration of the event.