Surf Coast and Geelong touted as Commonwealth Games hosts

LOCAL clubs and Australia’s cutting-edge surfing corps are ringing the bell for their sport’s inclusion in the 2026 Commonwealth Games, and saying the Surf Coast is the perfect host.

Geelong also raised a hand to start and end the two-week international sports festival, and said the region had the capacity to host a wide range of Games events.

Region Victoria appears set to host the 2026 Games, after Premier Daniel Andrews announced last week that the state had entered ‘exclusive’ negotiations with organizers over a ‘predominantly regional’ event spread in Victoria.

The state government said it has yet to confirm details of the venues for the events while discussions are ongoing, sparking widespread speculation across the state about which regions and venues the Games could present.

With the jewel in Australia’s surfing crown sitting in the backyard of the region, Torquay surfers said the upcoming event would be the perfect opportunity to introduce the sport to the Commonwealth Games program on the famous Bells beach.

“Australia’s surfing history is really strong, so if you want to start surfing at the Commonwealth Games, Australia is the perfect country to do it,” said Harry Man, chairman of the Torquay Boardriders Club.

“We have so many great breaks to offer here. Bells being one of the oldest surfer compositions of all time, it would be fitting to have him there.

Peak State Surfing Victoria said it would advocate for the sport to be included in the 2026 Games if the event lands in Victoria.

“Surfing Victoria is delighted to hear that the Commonwealth Games may be held in Victoria. Surfing would be a great complement to the other sports in the games and Victoria has some of the best waves in the country for competitors,” said CEO Adam Robertson. “We look forward to working with the state government and the (Commonwealth Games) Organizing Committee on the potential inclusion of surfing in the program.”

Surfing is not currently on the Commonwealth Games Federation’s list of available sports, despite its Olympic status and participation in Tokyo last year.

Games organizers generally facilitate the inclusion of sports that have historical significance to the host country; this year’s Games in England will return to cricket, Gold Coast 2018 added beach volleyball for the first time, while Delhi 2010 included wrestling.

Surfing bodies lobbied unsuccessfully for surfing to be included in the Gold Coast programme, despite surfing themes featuring prominently among the event’s mascot and merchandise.

Kardinia Trust CEO Gerard Griffin, second left, and COGG Deputy Mayor Trent Sullivan, second right, joined Tourism Greater Geelong and Bellarine’s Thomas Erhardt, Tracey Carter and Lorraine Masterman to make Geelong’s case as a major host of the Games. Photo: GREATER GEELONG CITY

Meanwhile, Geelong is likely to feature prominently in any regional Victorian Games as the most populous regional city in the state, and has made its case for hosting the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and a range ports.

Geelong has by far the largest stadium in the Victoria region at Kardinia Park, which would hold more than 40,000 spectators when its current stage five redevelopment is completed next year.

“The GMHBA Stadium at Kardinia Park is an exceptional stadium that can accommodate everything from the biggest bands in the world to major sporting events,” said Greater Geelong City Deputy Mayor Trent Sullivan.

“If negotiations are successful, Geelong is an obvious choice to stage a spectacular opening or closing ceremony. Our city boasts some of the best sporting facilities in the region of Australia and we are ready to host everything from rowing to swimming, through athletics, cricket, triathlons, road cycling, rugby 7 and hockey.

Last week, Mr Andrews alluded to the ability of the Geelong region to host aquatic events, including swimming, synchronized swimming and diving.

Geelong Arena hosted the basketball preliminary rounds when Melbourne hosted the Games in 2006.

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