States rule out hosting 2026 Commonwealth Games after Victoria scraps event

Victoria's decision may become Queensland's worry

State premiers have already ruled out hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games after Victoria’s bombshell decision to walk away because of cost blowouts from $2.6 billion to $6 billion.

But a bitterly disappointed Commonwealth Games Australia chief has vowed to try to salvage the international event, while slamming the “absolutely embarrassing” Andrews government decision to can it.

Premiers of NSW, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania were quick to rule out picking up the event from Victoria on Tuesday.

The Lord Mayor of Perth Basil Zempilas reportedly expressed an interest. But he was quickly overruled by WA Premier Roger Cook, who labelled the Games as “ruinously expensive”.

“This would cost a significant amount of money and provide very little return on that investment, providing a highly expensive sugar hit of a 12-day sporting festival,” he said on Tuesday.

In NSW, despite support from some business groups for the idea, Premier Chris Minns was also a no. Instead, he pointed to NSW’s record debt and his government’s lengthy list of election promises.

South Australia’s Malinauskas government has also ruled out reviving the event in Adelaide.

“While this decision will be deeply disappointing for athletes and supporters of the Commonwealth Games, the South Australian government has no intention of stepping in to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” a spokesperson for Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

“Successive governments, both Liberal and Labor, have considered hosting the games and determined the cost would outweigh the economic benefit.”

Despite the lack of enthusiasm from state leaders, Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips said organisers would try to find a way for the sporting event to be held in Australia.

“We will reset after this and move on and look to see whether we can continue to be the host nation for 2026,” he said.

Mr Phillips said many cities across Australia could step in.

“Many have the capability and the facilities already to host the Games. We know that. We would certainly be happy to talk to any state government or city who have ambitions,” he said.

Mr Phillips said the first he knew of the Victorian government’s decision was at 8am Tuesday, just 90 minutes before Premier Daniel Andrews made the bombshell decision public.

Mr Andrews said a massive cost blowout was behind the decision.

“Frankly, $6 billion to $7 billion for a 12-day sporting event, we are not doing that,” he said on Tuesday.

“That does not represent value for money, that is all costs and no benefit.”

However, Mr Phillips claimed the $6 billion figure was different to that presented by the local organising committee at a meeting last month.

The sports body blamed the state government’s plan to host sports in regional Victoria for the ballooning bill.

Mr Phillips said there were ways to cut back on the huge expenses, including by hosting some of the main events in Melbourne, where facilities were already available.

“We were talking about ways of containing costs for the delivery of the Games and the operational costs of the Games,” he told media.

“Some of those suggestions from us were to start to look at being pragmatic and reduce the reliance on temporary builds in regional locations.

“Come back to existing venues, particularly here in Melbourne.

“But we were told by the Victorian government – not interested.”

Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Shepparton and Gippsland had been named as host centres and the Melbourne Cricket Ground as the opening ceremony venue.

Mr Andrews said the government considered moving the Games to Melbourne, holding fewer sports and having fewer regional hubs, but all options were too expensive.

“None of those options stack up,” he said.

Mr Philips questioned the claim it would cost $4 billion to shift the Games to Melbourne. The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 had cost $1.2 billion and Birmingham in 2022 was $1.8 billion, he said.

“I’m not sure how big a leap of more than double that to run the Games. I find it a little hard to believe,” he said.

The Commonwealth Games Federation, the international body responsible for the event, said it remained committed to running a 2026 Games and into the future.

“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,” the CGF said in a statement.

-with AAP

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