Australia has withdrawn from its role as the host country for the 2026 Commonwealth Games

The regional centers of Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland, and Shepparton were initially set to host the 2026 Games from March 17-29

(Sports News) Australia’s Victoria state Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced on Tuesday that his government has decided to withdraw as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to a significant escalation in the projected expenses associated with organizing the multi-sports event.

According to Andrews, although his government had previously agreed to host the upcoming edition of the quadrennial games, they were not willing to do so at any price. Initially, they had allocated a budget of 2.6 billion Australian dollars ($1.8 billion) to facilitate the Games across five regional cities. However, recent estimations have revealed that the potential cost could reach as high as 7 billion Australian dollars ($4.8 billion).

During a press conference, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews stated that the anticipated expenses for hosting the 2026 Games have exceeded the initial budget of $2.6 billion. Instead, the projected cost has escalated to a minimum of $6 billion and potentially as high as $7 billion.

Andrews emphasized that he would not divert funds from essential services such as hospitals and schools to finance an event that exceeds the estimated and budgeted cost by threefold. Consequently, the Games will no longer take place in Victoria in 2026 as originally scheduled from March 17-29. The regional centers of Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland, and Shepparton were the intended host locations for the event.

In response to the withdrawal of Australia as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) expressed its deep disappointment through a statement. The CGF acknowledged the impact of this decision on the organization itself and the athletes involved, and it stated that it is currently seeking advice to explore potential solutions for the event in 2026.

The CGF attributed the significant increase in estimated costs primarily to the regional, multi-city host model and the Victoria government’s alterations in venue plans, which also included the inclusion of additional sports. The federation expressed empathy for the Commonwealth Sport Movement, athletes across the Commonwealth, and the Organizing Committee, recognizing their advanced progress in planning and preparations.

The given reasons for Australia’s withdrawal as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games are primarily financial. The current estimated cost of $6 billion is 50% higher than what was advised to the Organizing Committee board during its June meeting.

The increased expenses are primarily attributed to the unique regional delivery model chosen by Victoria for the Games. Specifically, the costs relate to the construction of villages and venues, as well as the development of transportation infrastructure.

Since the Games were awarded to Victoria, the government has made several decisions that have contributed to the escalated costs. These include the inclusion of more sports, the addition of an extra regional hub, and changes to the original venue plans. In many instances, these decisions were made against the advice of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA).

The CGF expressed disappointment over the Victorian Government’s abrupt decision to withdraw from hosting the Games. The CGF statement noted that they were only given eight hours’ notice and no opportunity was provided for joint discussions to explore potential solutions prior to the government’s final decision.

Previously, the Government had assured that there were adequate funds accessible to successfully organize the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is currently seeking advice on the available options and is committed to finding a resolution for the Games in 2026 that prioritizes the interests of the athletes and the broader Commonwealth Sport Movement.

It is worth noting that Victoria state had previously hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Australia’s most recent edition of the Games took place in 2018 on the Gold Coast in Queensland. Furthermore, the southeast Queensland region, including the Gold Coast, is scheduled to host events during the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane.

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