The Government of the Australian state of Victoria has advised the Commonwealth Games Feederation and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) that it will be terminating the Host Agreement for the hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2026.
According to a statement from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, “With significant planning work and extensive market soundings completed, it is now certain that the cost of hosting the Regional Victorian Commonwealth Games will exceed AUD$6 billion – more than twice the estimated economic benefit the Games would bring our state.
“In the face of these numbers, the Victorian Government has made the decision not to proceed with hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2026.
“When the Commonwealth Games needed a host city to step in at the last minute, we were willing to help – but not at any price, and not without a big lasting benefit for regional Victoria. Now the choice couldn’t be clearer – $6 billion is just too much.
“It is our aim to reach a rapid and amicable resolution of all contractual matters, including a reasonable settlement of costs incurred, to allow the CGF the opportunity to seek an alternative host city for 2026.”
According to the Premier, “The main reason we agreed to host the Games was to deliver lasting benefits in housing, tourism and sporting infrastructure for regional Victoria.”
Despite the event itself not going ahead, the Victorian Government has announced it will deliver a $2 billion package to ensure regional Victoria still receives all the benefits that would have been facilitated by the Games.
The package includes a new $1 billion Regional Housing Fund to deliver more than 1300 new homes across regional Victoria. In addition, the Government has stated that “… every one of the permanent new and upgraded sporting infrastructure projects planned as part of the Games will still proceed – and all will be completed as planned.”
This includes a new Aquatic Centre at Armstrong Creek, a 6-court indoor stadium at Waurn Ponds, upgrading Eureka Stadium in Ballarat to seat 10,000 spectators, a new community sporting facility at Miners Rest, upgrades to Bendigo Stadium, BMX trails in Shepparton, Gippsland Sports and Entertainment Park, Ted Summerton Reserve in Moe, among others.
“Now, instead of building temporary facilities for the Games competitions, we’ll be able to get on with constructing the final form of these projects and delivering the legacy outcomes – meaning locals will get access to new and upgraded venues sooner than waiting for the Games to be completed,” said the statement.
Responding to the Victorian Government’s announcement, the Commonwealth Games Feederation said, “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 reasons given are financial. The numbers quoted to us today of $6 billion are 50% more than those advised to the Organising Committee board at its meeting in June.
“These figures are attributed to price escalation primarily due to the unique regional delivery model that Victoria chose for these Games, and in particular relate to village and venue builds and transport infrastructure.
“Since awarding Victoria the Games, the Government has made decisions to include more sports and an additional regional hub, and changed plans for venues, all of which have added considerable expense, often against the advice of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA).
“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.
“Up until this point, the Government had advised that sufficient funding was available to deliver the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.
“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.”
While Australia’s Seven Network was a Rights Holder for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the broadcaster had yet to negotiate rights for the 2026 Games in Melbourne. New Zealand Rights Holder for 2026, Sky, “politely declined” to comment when contacted by C+T.