Commonwealth Games makes mystery esports U-turn
Competitive gaming will not be a medal event in the 2026 Commonwealth Games, after a surprise U-turn.
Esports was a pilot event at the 2022 Birmingham Games, co-funded by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Global Esports Federation (GEF).
And the CGF called this a success, with its president saying she expected it to be included “going forward”.
But the organisers of the 2026 Games, in Victoria, Australia, say esports will not feature.
Despite of numerous requests from BBC News, the CGF and GEF, the 2026 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee refused to give any specific reasons for the U-turn.
One person close to the discussions said arranging year-round drugs testing across the various gaming titles could have been problematic.
“Everything was looking great after Birmingham and it seemed like esports would make history in Victoria,” another insider said.
“We have no idea why the committee rejected it, as they won’t say.
“Doping could have been a factor but also there was a lot of general resistance to esports from more traditional, older members of the Games nation groups.
“It’s very disappointing.”
At the Birmingham event, CGF president Dame Louise Martin said she hoped including esports in the official programme would boost interest from young people less interested in traditional sports.
“There are a lot of young people in that age group who don’t play sport per se, in a playing field or something like that, but they are playing sport on a games console,” she said.
The livestreamed matches pulled in audiences in the low hundreds.
But the CGF and GEF said they were continuing to assess the pilot and potential future events.
A 2026 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee spokeswoman said: “While they weren’t successful this time, the Commonwealth Games Federation and Global Esports Federation will keep working on an inclusion pathway for this growing sport.” .
There have been many high-profile cases of competitive gamers taking substances such as the prescription drug Adderall in the hope of enhancing their concentration and performance.
Last year, professional Call of Duty player Cuyler “Huke” Garland admitted using Adderrall during his Championship win in 2020.
In 2015, professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Kory “Semphis” Friesen said he and his Cloud9 teammates had used Adderall during a major tournament with $250,000 in prize money.
And in July 2022, the CGF signed a long-term partnership agreement with the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has banned Adderall for use in competition.
None of the 100 gamers from 20 different countries at the 2022 pilot event was drugs tested.
Professional Fifa gamer Joshua “JMKKing” King, from New Zealand, who came eighth, said: “I not currently aware of any doping scandals claims at all in the Fifa scene.
“I would assume the potential for issues is there due to the online nature of most competitions but there is nothing that I have ever heard about.
“It would have been a great opportunity to continue to grow esports and a potential opportunity for me to represent my country – but it isn’t the end of the road and esports will continue to grow without involvement in the Commonwealth Games.”