The Australian state of Victoria will not host the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to expected cost overruns, putting the quadrennial multi-sports event’s future in doubt.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said the cost of the Games, which were to be held in four regional hubs, could amount to more than A$7 billion (85 billion rand) from a listed budget of A$2.6 billion (31 billion rand) if they go ahead.
“Frankly, A$6-7 billion for a 12-day sporting event, we’re just not doing that,” Andrews told the media.
“I’m not going to siphon money from hospitals and schools to fund an event that would cost three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year.”
Andrews said Victoria had already informed the Commonwealth Games World Federation (CGF), but the cost of breaking the 2026 contract had yet to be determined.
The CGF did not provide immediate comment, but the Commonwealth Games of Australia (CGA) said the withdrawal was “extremely disappointing”.
Instead, the government will spend more than two billion Australian dollars on … building all the permanent sports facilities intended for the Games [and on] Social and affordable housing.
“It’s an overall disappointment for the athletes, the passionate host communities, the Australian First Nations who were at the heart of the Games, and the millions of fans who would have embraced Australia’s sixth home game,” CGA CEO Craig Phillips said.
“The stated costs, in our opinion, are grossly overestimated.”
The sporting event for most of the former British colonies has struggled to remain relevant, with five of the past six editions having been held in Australia or Britain.
The English city of Birmingham stepped in to host the 2022 Games after South Africa was stripped of it in 2017 due to a lack of progress in preparations.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Does the Commonwealth Games still matter in 2022?
Although Australia recently hosted the Games 2018 in the Gold CoastVictoria raised its hand for 2026 last year when no other country showed interest.
Victorian state officials have spoken of legacy benefits from new infrastructure in the regional centers of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland, and of an economic boost of more than A$3 billion (36.7 billion rand).
Andrews said the government would instead spend more than A$2 billion (R24.4 billion) on a “regional package” which would include building all permanent sporting facilities for the Games, along with A$1 billion (R12.2-billion) for social and affordable housing. Reasonable.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), which has talked about the 2026 Games as a “stand-by” to host the Brisbane 2032 Olympics, said it was a “major disappointment” for the athletes.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee said it was “concerned” for its athletes, who had planned Games close to their home country.
Australia, the Games’ most successful competitor nation, has hosted five of the previous 22 editions.
The lack of enthusiasm from one of gaming’s staunchest fans bodes ill for their future.
John Coates, IOC vice-president and former Olympic Committee president, said the largest state in the country, New South Wales, could and should take part in the Games.
The New South Wales state capital, Sydney, hosted the 2000 Olympic Games.
However, New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said his government would reject any approach due to budgetary pressures.
The states of South Australia and Western Australia were also excluded.
The cost of games and their nebulous benefits have always raised doubts, and even the fandom has admitted it needs to downsize to survive.
A bid for the Canadian city of Hamilton to host the 2030 Games in February collapsed after failing to secure government support. Reuters/DM