Victoria axes 2026 Comm Games after mammoth cost blowout

Victoria wins rights to host 2026 Commonwealth Games

The Victorian government has axed the 2026 Commonwealth Games amid a mammoth cost blowout.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the decision at a snap media briefing on Tuesday morning.

“Last year when the Commonwealth games authorities approached us and needed someone to step into host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, as a state we were happy to help out but, of course, not at any price and only if there was lasting benefit for Victorian communities and benefit for the whole state,” he said.

“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 and is sitting, the vast, vast majority of which has not been spent.

“It is not $2.6 billion, it is in fact at least $6 billion and could be as high as $7 billion and … I think it could be more than that.”

The Andrews government announced in 2022 that the Games would be shared across regional Victorian centres, including Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton. They were intended as a post-COVID sports and tourism boost for country Victoria.

“It’s a showcase of all that we do so well. It’s about jobs. It’s about setting our state up for the future,” Mr Andrews said at the time.

“We know that when regional Victoria is doing well, Victoria is doing well.”

The Games were to be held from March 17-29, 2026.

Tuesday’s announcement comes about 18 months after Victoria made a solo bid for the 2026 event.

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said Games authorities had been informed at “amicable and productive” meetings on Monday night.

“Our consultations with industry, all of our preparatory work tells us. 6- $7 billion is well and truly too much for a 12-day sporting event,” he said.

“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools in order to fund an event that is three times the cost is estimated and budgeted for last year.”

Instead, the Andrews government has announced a $2 billion regional funding package. It includes $1 billion for social housing in country Victoria – at least 1300 houses.

“Frankly, $6-7 billion for a sporting event – we are not doing that. That does not represent value for money, that is all cost and no benefit,” he 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.”

He said negotiations were continuing with Games authorities.

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