Australia’s Victoria pulls out of hosting 2026 Commonwealth Games

Australia’s Victoria pulls out of hosting 2026 Commonwealth Games
Australia’s Victoria pulls out of hosting 2026 Commonwealth Games

Victoria, Australia will not serve as the host city for the 2026 Commonwealth Games (CWG). The Australian state withdrew from hosting the global event on Tuesday owing to mounting expenses with less than three years till the 2026 edition.

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The Games ended up costing an astounding Aus$7 billion (US$4.76 billion), well beyond the initial estimate of Aus$2 billion (US$1.36 billion). “In this role, I’ve had to make a lot of tough judgements and tough calls.

Not one of them is this. We are not spending $7 billion on a sports event, said Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, during a press conference in Melbourne. “I won’t divert funds from hospitals and schools to fund an event that will cost three times as much as was projected and planned for the previous year.

Twenty sports and 26 disciplines were anticipated to be featured at the 2026 Commonwealth Games. The activities were scheduled to take place in Shepparton, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland, and Geelong. The athletes’ village intended to be unique to each regional centre. Naturally, the expense of holding the event soared above what was manageable and affordable, prompting Victoria to opt out of hosting.

The institution in charge of the event, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), expressed regret and stated that they are searching for a solution for the 2026 Games.

“Today, we learned that the Victorian Government had reneged on its commitment to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026. The Commonwealth Sport Movement, athletes from around the Commonwealth, and the organising committee—whose planning and preparation are well under way—are all extremely disappointed by this, the CGF said in a statement.

The statement continued, “We are dedicated to finding a solution for the Games in 2026 that is in the best interest of our athletes and the larger Commonwealth Sport Movement. We are gathering advice on the possibilities available to us.

This is hardly the first instance of a host breaking their word. The initial 2022 Games host, Durban, lost the privilege in 2017 as a result of several missed deadlines and budgetary issues.

At that time, Birmingham in England assumed responsibility for saving the CGF. There are now less than three years remaining. It is just a harbinger of things to come when two hosts in a row break their word to the CGF.

Hosting loss-making global events that require spending billions of dollars is not likely to be a priority for countries when the world economy experiences a slump due to increasing inflation, declining demand, the Russia-Ukraine war, and climate change.

It’s a challenge that countries hosting the Olympic Games have also encountered. There are several instances of the Olympics wrecking a country’s economy throughout Olympic history.

For instance, Montreal (Canada) needed 30 years to pay off the debt from serving as the Olympic host city in 1976. The 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens are frequently cited as the cause of Greece’s economic collapse, while the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio (Brazil) left an ugly legacy of abandoned and empty stadia, corruption, and financial disaster due to the $14 billion cost overrun that was incurred to stage the games.

Despite the fact that organising the Olympics turned out to be a nightmare for the locals, the size of the event would enable it continue for a long time. The following two competitions will take place in Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028), both of which are popular tourist destinations and athletic hubs.

 However, the Commonwealth sport movement falls short in this regard. The Commonwealth Games (CWG), which are held every four years, include athletes from 52 Commonwealth nations, the majority of which were once British colonies. Only three of the 22 editions have been held outside of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain.

India was the only country to host it, and in 2010 they spent $4.1 billion instead of the expected US$270 million. Similar to Rio, its legacy includes an infrastructure that continues to experience corruption and competition at the same level.

The outrageous cost has also deterred India from submitting a proposal for another such event. Additionally, the high expenditures make it clear that only industrialised economies can afford to hold such Games.

Victoria’s decision to withdraw, however, has put a stop to this idea and seriously casts doubt on the viability of the Commonwealth Games, which are significantly less competitive than the Asian Games or the Olympics.

Birmingham’s lack of investment was the only thing that allowed them to save CGF’s face. The organisers claimed that with the Alexander Stadium, the city already had 95 percent of the tournament sites ready for use.

The budget was reduced to US$989 million by the addition of just the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which was even less than what Australia spent for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

The CWG and the Olympics’ future is most likely in this. To hold the Games in locations with infrastructure already in place for both athletic activities and housing, and maybe to host the Games alongside less significant events. Even then, CWG confronts its greatest difficulty due to rising expenses, negative economic trends, and a decline in bids.

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