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Image: Commonwealth Games Australia

Victoria Axes 2026 Commonwealth Games

The state government of Victoria has spectacularly axed plans to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, citing financial constraints. Premier Daniel Andrews fronted the media on Tuesday to confirm the news, telling reporters that the proposed budget for the Games had blown out by more than double.

“The games will not proceed in Victoria in 2026,” Premier Andrews said in the press conference. “What’s become clear is that the cost of hosting these Games in 2026 is not the $2.6 billion which was budgeted and allocated. I will not take money out of hospitals and schools to host an event that is three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year. It is, in fact, at least $6 billion and could be as high as $7 billion.”

2026 Victoria Commonwealth Games Cancellation

The shock announcement comes a little over a year after the Victorian government set aside that $2.6 billion in the state budget for the Games. At that time, the government outlined that its bid would see the games as a “predominantly regional” event. The sporting spectacle would have served as a significant step in bolstering the state’s regional tourism plans, with hundreds of thousands of international fans expected to flock to the Games. However, the fiscal challenges have mounted and so too, the tensions between parties.

In an official statement sighted by AAP journalist Callum Godde, the Commonwealth Games Federation claimed it was given just eight hours’ notice of the move to cancel the 2026 Games in regional Victoria.

“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 statement read.

“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.”

Commonwealth Games | Image: Stephen Margo
Commonwealth Games | Image: Stephen Margo

What the Commonwealth Games Axing Means for Regional Victoria

While Premier Andrews’ press conference confirmed that Victoria will no longer hold hosting duties, he did provide some reassurance to rural communities. The Labor leader announced a $2 billion spending package for regional Victoria to make up for the loss of the Games. According to the ABC, the package includes a $1 billion Regional Housing Fund to build 1,300 new homes across regional Victoria.

“I’ve made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them. Frankly, $7 billion for a sporting event, we are not doing that,” Andrews said. “We will instead deliver all and more of the legacy benefits in housing, sporting infrastructure, tourism and we will unpack all that tomorrow and throughout the week and there will be further details of all of that as well as the process to deliver that.”

Image: Commonwealth Games Australia
Image: Commonwealth Games Australia

Who is Hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games Now?

While the situation is far from over, much of the public attention has now turned to who will host the Commonwealth Games when 2026 does roll around. Some have suggested that the Games simply be moved to Melbourne, however, Premier Andrews shot down that suggestion.

“So there is a cost so we would not be using them, and there is also the small matter of you could save money by not building villages for instance, but then every hotel room in the city would be pretty much taken up by those who are part of the Games, not those who are coming here to watch the Games,” Andrews said via ABC. “So again the cost-benefit ratio does not stack up.”

As for potential hosts, Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff has already confirmed his state won’t be taking on the job, while the South Australian government revealed that it has “no intention of stepping in to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games”.

Vivid sydney lights 2023 on the harbour bridge feature
Sydney Harbour during VIVID 2023 | Image: Destination NSW

Potential for 2026 Sydney Commonwealth Games

One potential landing spot for the 2026 Commonwealth Games is interstate rival NSW. International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates was quick to suggest the state as an alternative with the Daily Telegraph publishing his comments that NSW had the venues to host the games.

“There’s no question we’ve got the venues … and March would be a good time to host it,” he said. “I’d love to see it come here … The sports have the ability to organise it.”

Sport NSW chair, Chris Hall agreed, claiming that the state was ready to host an event of that scale, citing previous events as a proven track record for success.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for NSW to bring the Commonwealth Games to Sydney,” he said via The Guardian. “We’ve got the facilities and the venues. Some might need a little bit of a spruce up but it would be great to bring that elite sporting talent to inspire the next generation by hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2026.”

At the time of writing, negotiations regarding the 2026 Commonwealth Games are ongoing. No hosting destination has been confirmed, however, the Commonwealth Games Federation is actively working on finding a suitable replacement.

“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 Movement.”