The Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) have described Victoria’s withdrawal decision from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games as “beyond disappointing.”
Australia have hosted the Commonwealth Games five times (Sydney 1938, Perth 1962, Brisbane 1982, Melbourne 2006 and Gold Coast 2018), more than any other nation. Yet all of the country’s states on Tuesday ruled out picking up the event due to high costs.
The Victoria 2026 staff were informed of the decision in a morning meeting, briefly before Andrews publicly confirmed the news in a press conference in Melbourne: “We have informed the Commonwealth Games authorities of our decision to seek to terminate the contract and to not conduct, not host the Games,” Andrews stated.
SIX BILLION BUDGET
Commonwealth Games authorities have blamed the Victorian government for considerably increasing the 2026 Games expenses by triple compared to the initial budget, citing the 12-day tournament estimated cost is more than A$6 billion, going against official advice and adding more sports and venues, before abruptly announcing the Games’ cancellation.
The Commonwealth Games are a multi-sport tournament that takes place every four years. They have only ever been cancelled during World War II.
To be eligible to participate in the Games, competitors must be from one of the Commonwealth’s 56 members. Most of the countries in the Commonwealth were once part of the British Empire.
1000 DAYS TO GO
With under 1000 days until the event was due to begin, Andrews explained the reasoning to pull out, that he “would not take money out of schools and hospitals in order to fund an event that is three times the cost [which] is estimated and budgeted for last year.”
Despite the premier’s statement that the government had considered “every option” including moving the games to Melbourne, before informing CGF of their final decision; the CGA Chief Executive Craig Phillips said the news was a significant letdown and described the numbers surrounding potential cost overruns as “a gross exaggeration” and said it is still committed to finding a solution.
“The announcement made by the Victorian Government today is beyond disappointing,” Phillips said.
“It’s a comprehensive letdown for the athletes, the excited host communities, First Nations Australians who were at the heart of the Games, and the millions of fans that would have embraced a sixth home Games in Australia.
“The multi-city model for delivering Victoria 2026 was an approach proposed by the Victorian Government, in accordance with a strategic roadmap of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). It was pitched to the CGF after the CGA had sought interest to host the Games from several states.”
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) was on edge to find a host before Victoria volunteered in April 2022.
Organisers originally planned to host the Games across cities including Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat – with a cost of A$2.6bn (£1.4bn/ $1.8bn), the state government had billed it as a “boost for the regions”.
Credit: AIPS Media