September 26, 2023

Victoria State Withdraws as Host of 2026 Commonwealth Games Due to Increased Costs

In a surprising turn of events, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday that his government has withdrawn as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games. The decision was made in response to a significant increase in the projected cost of staging the multi-sports event.

Last year, the government had agreed to host the quadrennial event but not at any cost, according to Andrews. Initially budgeted at 2.6 billion Australian dollars ($1.8 billion) to be held in five regional cities, recent estimates now put the potential cost as high as 7 billion Australian dollars ($4.8 billion).

During a press conference, Andrews stated, “What’s become clear is that the cost of hosting these Games in 2026 is not the $2.6 billion which was budgeted. It is, in fact, at least $6 billion, and could be as high as $7 billion. I will not take money out of hospitals and schools in order to fund an event that is three times the cost [which] was estimated and budgeted for last year. In terms of where we go to from here, the Games will not proceed in Victoria in 2026.”

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) expressed its disappointment with the decision, stating that it is “hugely disappointing” for the organization, the athletes, and the Organizing Committee. The CGF is now seeking advice on alternative options for hosting the event in 2026.

The CGF attributed the estimated cost escalation to the regional, multi-city host model chosen by Victoria and the government’s decision to change plans for venues and include more sports. The decision to include additional sports and a regional hub, as well as changes in venue plans, significantly added to the expenses, often against the advice of the CGF and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA).

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The 2026 Commonwealth Games were originally scheduled to take place from March 17-29 in the regional centers of Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland, and Shepparton. The sudden withdrawal of Victoria as the host has created uncertainty regarding the future of the event.