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2026 Commonwealth Games: Australian state Victoria pulls out of hosting over cost concerns

Australia's Victoria has pulled out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games with state Premier Dan Andrews citing the potential cost of the event; Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Craig Phillips says it is a "let down for athletes and First Nations Australians"

Fireworks light up at Carrara Stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia
Image: Fireworks light up at Carrara Stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia

The Commonwealth Games Federation has said the Victorian state government's decision to withdraw as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games is "hugely disappointing".

The CGF said in a statement it was given only eight hours' notice of the decision, which was announced by Victoria's state premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday morning.

Andrews told media in Melbourne the original budget for the games was estimated to be around 2.6 billion dollars (#1.3 billion) but had ballooned out to nearly triple that.

He said: "Last year when the Commonwealth Games authorities approached us and needed someone to step in to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, as a state we were happy to help out, but of course not at any price.

Gold medalist team Australia, in yellow, silver medalist team India, in blue, and bronze medalist team New Zealand, in white, pose for a selfie after the women's cricket T20 final match between Australia and India at Edgbaston at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Image: Australia, India and New Zealand celebrate their T20 cricket medals at last year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

"I've made a lot of difficult decisions in this job, this is not one of them.

"It's just quite obvious, we are not going to spend six to seven billion dollars on a 12-day sporting event.

"We don't just make popular decisions, we do what's right and it would simply be wrong."

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Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips delivered a stern response to the announcement and rejected the financial figures cited by Andrews.

"The stated cost overruns in our opinion are a gross exaggeration and not reflective of the operation costs presented to the Victorian 2026 Organising Committee as recently as June this year," he said in a statement.

"The Victorian Government wilfully ignored recommendations to move events to purpose-built stadia in Melbourne and in fact remained wedded to expensive temporary venues in regional Victoria.

"CGA welcomed the opportunity to review the financial analysis prepared independently of those involved at the coal face of planning and delivering."

He added that the decision to scrap the games was "absolutely embarrassing".

The CGF said in a statement: "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.

"The reasons given are financial. The numbers quoted to us today of 6 billion dollars are 50 per cent more than those advised to the Organising Committee board at its meeting in June.

"These figures are attributed to price escalation primarily due to the unique regional delivery model that Victoria chose for these Games, and in particular relate to village and venue builds and transport infrastructure."

The 2026 Commonwealth Games were set to be held in regional Victoria across towns like Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton.

The CGF statement continued: "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).

"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 prior to this decision being reached by the Government.

"Up until this point, the Government had advised that sufficient funding was available to deliver the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games."

The CGF said it remains "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".

Australia has hosted the Commonwealth Games five times, including on the Gold Coast in 2018 and in the Victorian capital of Melbourne in 2006.

Commonwealth Games Scotland express shock

Commonwealth Games Scotland released a statement on Tuesday morning outlining its disappointment in Victoria's withdrawal amid new uncertainty over where the event will be staged in 2026.

"Commonwealth Games Scotland is shocked to learn the news of the Victorian Government's decision to withdraw from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games," said the statement.

"On the back of a very successful Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for both Team Scotland and the Commonwealth Sport Movement in general, our preparations were well under way for selecting, preparing and sending a team to Australia in three years' time.

"The Games is the only opportunity for many athletes to compete under the Scottish flag, and we know how much that means to them, our sports and supporters.

"We share their disappointment with today's announcement and recognise the uncertainty it creates for all parties. We will now take the time to assess its implications and await further news from the Commonwealth Games Federation on options for the Games in 2026."

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