New Delhi, April 12
In a major shake-up in India, the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games has removed wrestling, shooting and archery from its initial list of sports programmes.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has confirmed Victoria, Australia as the host for the 2026 edition. It would be the first edition to be held in multiple cities, including Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland.
The disciplines that the Organizing Committee has included in the initial list are Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Beach Volleyball, T20 Cricket, Cycling, Gymnastics, Hockey, Bowls, netball, rugby sevens, squash, table tennis, triathlon and weightlifting. However, the organizers have clarified that they will add a few more disciplines later this year.
Bajrang Punia, a multiple World Championship medalist and Olympic bronze medalist, claimed Indians were being targeted. “I want to know on what basis this decision was taken because wrestling is one of the oldest sports and almost all countries practice our sport,” Punia told The Tribune.
“Also, it seems to me that the Indians are being targeted. First they suppressed shooting and now wrestling. This decision is not only against athletes from other countries, it is clearly against India as we are doing well in these sports,” he added.
Shotgun shooter and Khel Ratna award winner Ronjan Sodhi said: “It is very unfortunate that the two sports where India dominated are being pulled from the Commonwealth Games.”
“European nations still regard most countries as inferior to them. They cannot understand that a country like ours can improve and that is why they are trying to suppress these sports. Otherwise, how can you explain why they pulled the shot from the Birmingham Games in 2022? Do you really believe that a rich country like Britain doesn’t have enough money to build a range,’ he added.
Wrestling was not part of the Games in 2006. Shooting was removed from the 2022 Games as a result, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had called for a complete withdrawal. A compromise was reached between IOA and CGF to allow India to host shooting and archery championships. These events were also subsequently removed.
The last development will once again oppose these two authorities. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) have asked the Ministry of Sports to take the lead in trying to reinstate their sports in the sports program of 2026. “We will write a letter to the United World Wrestling (UWW) on this. A similar thing happened in 2006 and UWW made sure it came back for later editions,” said WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
“We will also approach the Ministry of Sports and the AIO to help us find a solution to this unfortunate situation. We believe Indians are unnecessarily targeted,” he added.