Commonwealth Games in doubt as host city withdraws

The 2026 Commonwealth Games are in doubt after the Australian state of Victoria cancelled its plans to host due to budget blowouts.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) struggled to find a host city before Victoria volunteered in April 2022.

But the premier said the projected cost had now tripled and become “well and truly too much” for the state to bear.

CGF called the decision “hugely disappointing” and said it is “committed to finding a solution”.

The Commonwealth Games have only ever been cancelled during World War Two.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday said Victoria had been “happy to help out” when approached to host last year, but “not at any price”.

Organisers had originally estimated the event – hosted across cities including Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat – would cost A $2.6 billion ($1.8bn) and the state government had billed it as a boom for the regions.

But now the 12-day tournament was expected to cost more than A $6 billion, Andrews said, adding that the new figure was “more than twice the estimated economic benefit” it would bring to Victoria.

“I’ve made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them,” he told a press conference.

“That is all cost and no benefit.”

The government will still complete the stadium upgrades it had promised ahead of the games, while using the money it is now saving on housing and tourism initiatives.

Andrew said the government had considered “all options” including moving the games to Melbourne, before informing CGF of their decision.

“Amicable and productive” meetings had occurred in London overnight, he added.

But in a statement on Tuesday, the governing body said they were blindsided by the decision.

“We are disappointed that we were only given eight hours’ notice and that no consideration was given to discussing the situation to jointly find solutions,” it said in a statement.

CGF said the estimate of A $6 billion is double the figure they were advised of at a board meeting last month, and that the blowout in costs were due to the “unique regional delivery model” that Victoria chose for the games.

The government had made decisions to include more sports and changed plans for venues, often against the advice of the CGF and its Australian arm, all of which added “considerable expense”, it said.

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto said the decision is a “massive humiliation” for the state, and “hugely damaging” for its reputation as a global events leader.

Australia has hosted the Commonwealth Games five times – including on the Gold Coast in 2018 and in the Victorian capital of Melbourne in 2006 – and other Australian cities like Sydney are now being touted as potential hosts.

Organisers have had great difficulty finding viable tournament hosts in recent years. (BBC)


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