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Report sounded alarm on Games headaches for Victoria

Gold Coast offers to rescue 2026 Commonwealth Games

A government-funded feasibility study focused on regional Victoria hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2034 instead of 2026 and sounded the alarm on cost pressures.

Victoria dumped hosting the 2026 Games on Tuesday after a forecast cost blowout of up to $4.4 billion in just over a year since its initial $2.6 billion budget was revealed.

A taskforce was set up in 2017 to explore a regional bid for the Games in 2030 but shifted to targeting a tilt for 2034 and beyond as it considered the timing most appropriate, according to a report from 2019.

The pre-feasibility study, funded by the Victorian government and regional councils, flagged a host of venues, housing, staffing, transport and ticketing issues stemming from hosting the global event across several regional cities.

“Spreading venues across Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton regions would require athletes to travel regularly in excess of the 60 minutes,” reads a 30-page summary of the report, published by The Australian on Thursday.

Authors Otium Planning Group warned housing more than 40 per cent of athletes outside of the main village could add costs through duplicating accommodation for athletes and officials and transport services.

“The biggest challenge for any major multisport event is the provision of an event village and associated accommodation to cater for the demand of athletes close to competition and ceremony venues,” the study said.

One of the options floated for the main athletes’ village was mooring a cruise ship off the Port of Geelong, as some liners are able to accommodate up to 3500 beds.

Sports venue requirements for the Games could also force the use of temporary infrastructure and “somewhat diminish” the legacy benefits left behind for regional host cities, it said.

Victorian Housing Minister Colin Brooks refused to be drawn on the study’s findings, citing ongoing contract termination talks with government representatives and Commonwealth Games leaders in London.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to unpick the details of different decisions that have been made in the lead-up to the 2026 decision,” he said on Thursday.

“What the Premier (Daniel Andrews) has indicated clearly is that the business case for the ’26 Games will be released at the appropriate time once those conversations with the Commonwealth Games Federation have been concluded.”

The Victorian government had been seeking a dollar-for-dollar contribution of $1.3 billion from the Commonwealth but no money was set aside in the May federal budget.

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto suggested the federal government allocated no funding for the Games as it knew the event was going to be scrapped, a claim categorically denied by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“It’s nonsense … this was a decision by the Victorian government,” Mr Albanese told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“It is just a fact that when it comes to announcements and engagements of different levels of government, not everything occurs … in a budget context.”

– AAP

Topics: victoria
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