THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT has cancelled the 2026 Commonwealth Games, premier Daniel Andrews has announced this morning. The Games, which were supposed to provide an economic boost to regional areas, have been scrapped due to funding issues, per the ABC.
“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,” Andrews said. Instead the costs had blown out to $6 billion or $7 billion and the state could not afford it, the premier said.
“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.”
The government announced in 2022 that the Games would be hosted across regional Victorian centres, including Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton. At the time of the announcement, Andrews said it would be “a Commonwealth Games like no other”, and a “great vote of confidence in regional areas”.
Andrews’ bombshell announcement has left athletes and administrators reeling. Here’s what we know so far.
Why are the Commonwealth Games being cancelled?
The cost of living crunch is biting everywhere, including government expenditure. While the games were budgeted at $2.6 billion, Andrews said the bill would have come in at closer to $6 or $7 billion. That’s a lot of cash to watch pro-walkers traipse around the Shepparton hinterland.
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What happens to the money that would have been invested in the Commonwealth Games?
The government isn’t turning its back on regional Victoria, Andrews says. The premier has announced a $2 billion spending package for regional Victoria to make up for the loss of the Games, which was going to help upgrade facilities in the host towns, the ABC reports. Planned upgrades that were to accompany the Games will still go ahead, including upgrading Eureka Stadium in Ballarat to seat 10,000 spectators and upgrades to Bendigo Stadium.
Will there still be a Commonwealth Games in 2026?
Unclear. Three years isn’t long to plan and build the necessary infrastructure required to host an event involving 72 nations and 5000 athletes competing in close to 300 sports. Cities with infrastructure in place, like say, Sydney, could potentially step in, though given how tight things are right now it’s unlikely many governments have a spare $6b lying around.
Why not move the Games to Melbourne?
Andrews says this isn’t feasible. “We have looked at every conceivable option. All of them are far in excess of the $2.6 billion that’s been budgeted, so all of them represent more cost than there is benefit, and on that basis none of those options stack up and we’re not going to be hosting the Games in 2026,” Andrews told reporters.
He said many of Melbourne’s competition-grade facilities were “fairly busy”.
“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.
“So again the cost-benefit ratio does not stack up.”
Why is losing the Commonwealth Games a major blow for Victoria?
While the Commonwealth Games are often derided as a poor man’s Olympics, the event has previously been a money spinner for host cities. The Commonwealth Games Value Framework Report, conducted for the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), shows that hosting the event has boosted GDP in the host city/region from anywhere between $1.4b and $2.2b.
According to the study, the Games boosts local, regional and national GDP. Gold Coast 2018 showed the biggest uplift of $2.3b.
The report also revealed that the event has led to increases in tourism of up to 25 per cent in the three years after hosting, as well as Commonwealth trade deals and investments of up to $718m into the host city.
How will athletes be affected by the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games?
They’ll be pissed, to put it plainly. The Commonwealth Games is a big deal for athletes and if another host city doesn’t step in, it will leave a serious hole in their athletic calendars. Many use the Games as a building block in their preparation for Olympics and World Championships. Many of our biggest stars, such as Ian Thorpe, Kieran Perkins and Hayley Lewis had their coming out parties at Commonwealth Games.