February 25, 2024

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Commonwealth Games: 2026 event in doubt after Victoria’s cancellation

Commonwealth Games: 2026 event in doubt after Victoria’s cancellation
  • By Tiffany Turnbull
  • BBC News, Sydney

image source, Getty Images

photo caption,

Cyclists will compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom

The 2026 Commonwealth Games have been thrown into doubt after the Australian state of Victoria canceled plans to host it because it was out of budget.

The CGF struggled to find a host city before Victoria volunteered in April 2022.

But the prime minister said the projected cost had now tripled and was “really too good for the state”.

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

The Commonwealth Games were only canceled during World War II.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday that Victoria was “happy to help” when he was approached to host last year, but “not at any cost”.

Organizers had originally estimated the event – which is being hosted across cities including Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat – would cost A$2.6 billion (£1.4 billion; $1.8 billion) and the state government described it as a boon for regions.

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

“I’ve made a lot of tough calls, a lot of very tough decisions in this job. This isn’t one of them,” he told a news conference.

“It’s all cost and no benefit.”

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

He added that “friendly and productive” meetings were held in London overnight.

But the board said in a statement on Tuesday that it was shocked by the decision.

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

CGF said the A$6 billion estimate was double the figure they were notified of at a board meeting last month, and that the explosion in costs was due to the “unique regional delivery model” Victoria had chosen for the Games.

She added that the government had made decisions to include more sports and changed stadium plans, often against the advice of the NFL and its Australian arm, all of which added “significant expenses”.

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesoto said the decision was a “gross affront” to the state and “hugely damaging” to its reputation as a leader in world events.

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

Organizers have had great difficulty finding viable hosts for the tournament in recent years.

CGF originally hoped to name a host for the 2026 Games in 2019, but several hopeful bidders withdrew from the process due to cost concerns, leaving it unable to retain Victoria as host until 2022.