Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to cancel the 2026 Commonwealth Games could be the final nail in the coffin for the international sporting event.
Experts warned 18 months ago that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games could be the last to be held after global interest in hosting the event waned in recent years.
The 2022 Games were originally planned to be held in Durban, South Africa, but the city’s plans were scrapped over concerns over costs getting out of control.
“We did the best we could, but we can’t go any further,” South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula admitted at the time.
‘If the country says we don’t have this money, we can’t [host it].’
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews (pictured)’s decision to cancel the 2026 Commonwealth Games could be the final nail in the coffin for the historic international sporting event.
On Tuesday, the state government said the projected cost of $7 billion was beyond what its budget could afford or justify for a 12-day sporting event (pictured, Australia’s netball team celebrating winning gold in Birmingham in 2022)
Birmingham, the UK’s second-largest city, stepped in to take over the 2022 event after none of the 70 countries in the Commonwealth Games Federations showed interest in hosting it.
The English Midlands city was originally scheduled to host the Games in 2026, leaving event organizers desperately trying to fill the new gap in the calendar.
The lack of interest in the event continued when a ceremony to announce the hosts of the 2026 and 2030 Games to be held in Kigali in Rwanda in 2019 had to be canceled due to a lack of willing participants.
Another announcement date in 2020 was also canceled due to the Covid pandemic.
The games organizers were then forced to skip the usual solicitation for bids and instead approached Victoria directly to beg the state to host the four-year extravaganza.
Prime Minister Andrews agreed at the time on the basis that it would take place in regional Victoria rather than Melbourne in a bid to boost rural economies.
But on Tuesday, Andrews said the projected cost of $6-7 billion was beyond what the budget could afford or justify for a 12-day sporting event.
The decision now casts doubt on the entire future of the Games.
In its 93-year history, the event has almost always been held in the UK, Australia/New Zealand and Canada, with Jamaica, India and Malaysia being the only other exceptional hosts.
As Victoria pulls the plug in 2026, there are concerns about who will be able to fill the void quickly and the message it sends to future hosts.
It was widely predicted that Canada would host the 2030 event to mark the centennial of the Games, returning to Hamilton, Ontario, the original site of the first Games in 1930.
Due to the centenary celebrations, the city is unlikely to be prepared to move the Games forward to 2026 to fill the void created by Victoria.
As one analyst predicted in 2022, when Birmingham stepped in to replace Durban, “it looks like the whole thing could collapse unless decisions can be made quickly.”
Jack Revell wrote in the latch in February 2022: ‘There appears to be little interest from many of the former British colonies.
‘After 92 years, only three countries are interested in keeping the well-worn imperial sporting event alive, and even then, only in one push.
“With top-tier international sporting events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup attracting more and more attention each round, second-tier events like the Commonwealth Games could soon be seen as a nuisance.”
With Victoria now pulling the plug on 2026, there are concerns about who will be able to fill the void quickly and the message it sends to future hosts (Australia athletes at the 2022 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony pictured)
The Commonwealth Games Federation said the decision was highly disappointing and blamed the rising costs on the decision to host it in the regions.
“This is hugely disappointing for the Commonwealth Sport Movement, for Commonwealth athletes and the Organizing Committee who are well advanced in their planning and preparation,” a CGF statement said.
‘The reasons given are financial.
‘The figures quoted to us today of $6 billion are 50 per cent more than those reported to the Organizing Committee Board at their June meeting.
“These figures are attributed to price escalation primarily due to the unique regional delivery model Victoria chose for these Games and in particular relate to village and venue construction and transport infrastructure.”