Asserting "All Cost and No Benefit", Victoria cancels 2026 Commonwealth Games
New Delhi, 18 July, 2023
In a stunning move, the Australian state of Victoria on Tuesday announced that it will not host the 2026 Commonwealth Games because it is turning out to be too expensive.
The sudden and unexpected decision by Victoria has not only raised concern for the 2026 edition but has virtually threatened the existence of the Games.
Asserting that "it is all cost and no benefit." Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared that his state is in no position to host the games as it is financially not viable. "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" he assured.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) struggled to find a host before Victoria volunteered in April last year "Victoria had been "happy to help out" when approached to host last year, but "not at any price". declared Andrews adding that the projected cost had now tripled and become "well and truly too much" for the state to bear.
Organisers had originally estimated the event - hosted across cities including Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat - would cost A$2.6bn (£1.4bn; $1.8bn) and the state government had billed it as a boost for the regions. But now the revised estimates project that the 12-day extravaganza will cost more than A$6 billion.
"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. "Frankly, 6 billion or 7 billion Australian dollars for a sporting event - we are not doing that. That does not represent value for money, that it is all cost and no benefit."
"I will not take money out of hospitals and schools in order to fund an event that is three times the cost is estimated and budgeted for last year" he said adding that government had considered "every option" including moving the games to Melbourne, before informing CGF of their decision.
A rattled Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) called the decision "hugely disappointing" and said it is "committed to finding a solution".
The Commonwealth Games are a multi-sport tournament that takes place every four years. They have only ever been cancelled during World War Two. To be eligible to participate in the games, competitors must be from one of the Commonwealth's 56 members.
In a statement the CGF 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.
"We were informed today that the Victorian Government has walked away from their agreement to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. This is hugely disappointing for the Commonwealth Sport Movement, for athletes around the Commonwealth and the Organising Committee who are well advanced in their planning and preparation.
It said the estimate of A$6bn is double the figure they were advised at a board meeting last month, and that the increase 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".
Australia has held the Commonwealth Games five times - including on the Gold Coast in 2018 and in the Victorian capital of Melbourne in 2006 - but all of the country's states on Tuesday ruled out picking up the event. New Zealand authorities also say they will not take on the games.
Organisers have had great difficulty finding viable tournament hosts in recent years. The South African city of Durban was originally set to stage the 2022 games, but were stripped of hosting rights in 2017 after running into money troubles and missing key deadlines. Birmingham agreed to host nine months later.
Since awarding Victoria, the Games, the Government has made decisions to include more sports and an additional regional hub, and changed plans for venues, all of which have added considerable expense, often against the advice of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA).
"Up until this point, the Government had advised that sufficient funding was available to deliver the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games." the CGF said " We are taking advice on the options available to us and remain committed to finding a solution for the Games in 2026 that is in the best interest of our athletes and the wider Commonwealth Sport Movement." it added.