Melbourne: The Australian state of Victoria has pulled out as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to a projected cost explosion. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday that his government last year agreed to host the next edition of the multi-sport event, “but not at any cost”.
He said his government originally budgeted A$2.6 billion ($1.8 billion) to stage the Games in five regional cities, but recent estimates put the potential cost at A$7 billion. ($4.8 billion). Andrews told a news conference he had informed Commonwealth Games organizers of his government’s decision to pull out of the hosting contract.
“Today is not about criticizing these cost estimates,” he said, declining to describe the reasons for the cost explosion. “Frankly, A$6-7 billion for a 12-day sporting event, we’re not doing that – that’s not good value for money, it’s all cost and no benefit.”
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The CEO of Commonwealth Games Australia has criticized Victoria’s withdrawal as host of the 2026 event, describing the decision as “beyond disappointing” and accusing Daniel Andrews of grossly exaggerating operational costs.
The Commonwealth Games Federation released a statement saying it was taking advice on its options. The CGF said the estimated cost escalation was mainly due to the regional and multi-city hosting model and the Victorian government’s decision to change venue plans and include more sports.
“We are disappointed that we only received eight hours’ notice and that no consideration was given to discussing the situation to find solutions together before this decision was taken by the government,” the official said. press release from the CGF.
The 2026 Games were scheduled for March 17-29 in regional hubs Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton. The state government had promoted the multi-city model as a game-changer, with the five regional centers hosting 20 sports and nine fully integrated para-sports.
The government website had promoted Victoria 2026 as a showcase of “what excites the people of our state: our unity, our diversity, our sense of community, our welcoming attitude and our love of sport”.
Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips said the government’s decision was an “overall disappointment” over a concept he presented to organisers. “The reported cost overruns, in our view, are a gross exaggeration and do not reflect the operational costs presented to the Victoria 2026 Organizing Committee Board as recently as June,” Phillips said in a statement. .
“Beyond this, the Victorian Government deliberately ignored recommendations to move events to purpose-built (venues) in Melbourne and in fact remained committed to pursuing costly temporary venues in regional Victoria.”
This is the second time in as many editions that there have been problems with the organization of the Commonwealth Games. Birmingham stepped in late to host the 2022 Games in England as a replacement for Durban, South Africa.
The state of Victoria hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. The most recent edition held in Australia was on the Gold Coast in the state of Queensland in 2018. The Gold Coast was part of the South East Queensland bid which in 2021 secured the rights for the 2032 Olympics.
Andrew Liveris, Chairman of the Brisbane 2032 Organizing Committee, responded to the Victorian Government’s decision by saying that the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics operate under different business models in terms of event delivery, use of infrastructure and commercial income. The 2032 Olympics enjoys support from federal, state and local governments, and Liveris said the International Olympic Committee’s contribution to running costs and best practice support from previous Games has helped give organizers a foundation. solid.
“Brisbane 2032 has won the Games under the new normal – an efficient new game delivery model designed to drive legacy results for the host region, pre and post Games,” he said. “Brisbane 2032 has an 11-year track for optimal planning and preparation.”
The Commonwealth Games began as the British Empire Games in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada, and since 1978 have operated under their current brand. England, Australia, New Zealand, Wales, Jamaica, Scotland, Malaysia and India have hosted the Games, which are held every four years and involve 54-member teams of the Commonwealth network and of 17 Overseas Territories and Island States.