MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The Australian state of Victoria will not host the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to projected cost overruns, putting the quadrennial multi-sport event’s future in doubt.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said the cost of the Games, which were to be held across four regional hubs, could explode to more than A$7 billion ($4.8 billion) from the A$2.6 billion budgeted if it goes ahead.
“Frankly, between A$6 and $7 billion for a 12-day sporting event, we’re just not doing that,” Andrews said at a media conference.
“I’m not going to take money out of 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 Commonwealth Football Association had no immediate comment, but the local body for the Commonwealth Games of Australia (CGA) said the withdrawal was “highly disappointing”.
“It’s a total 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 Chief Executive Craig Phillips said at a news conference. a permit.
“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 last six editions being 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.
Although Australia recently hosted the Games in 2018 on the Gold Coast, Victoria raised its hand for 2026 last year when no other country showed interest.
Victorian officials have spoken of inherited benefits from new infrastructure in regional centers of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland, and an economic boost of more than A$3 billion.
Andrews said the government would instead spend more than A$2 billion on a “regional package” which would include the construction of all permanent sports facilities intended for the Games, along with A$1 billion for social and affordable housing.
Speaking of the 2026 Games as a “stand-in” for hosting the 2032 Brisbane Olympics, the Australian Olympic Committee said it was a “huge disappointment” for the athletes.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee said it was “concerning” for the athletes, who had planned the Games so 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. Read more
($1 = 1.4671 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Ian Ransome; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Stephen Coates, and Peter Rutherford
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