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Friday, September 22, 2023

Australia Cancels Hosting of 2026 Commonwealth Games

The government had planned to hold the Games in five regional locations outside of Melbourne

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AUSTRALIA: Premier Daniel Andrews of Victoria, Australia, has made the decision to cancel the hosting of the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to high costs.

This announcement has come as a disappointment to athletes and marks another setback in the Commonwealth Games’ struggle to secure hosts and maintain its relevance.

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Governor Daniel Andrews cited cost as the primary factor in the cancellation of Victoria’s bid to host the event. The government had planned to hold the Games in five regional locations outside of Melbourne.

Andrews acknowledged the potential challenges and risks associated with hosting the Games in regional areas, stating that it may pose more significant risks than hosting in a major city.

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The estimated cost of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games has exceeded Andrews’ initial predictions, reaching at least $6 billion, and possibly $7 billion.

Craig Phillips, CEO of Commonwealth Games Australia, believes that the projected cost overrun is exaggerated and criticized the Victorian government for disregarding recommendations to use existing Melbourne stadia and instead opting for expensive temporary venues in regional Victoria.

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While Andrews has pledged to continue investing in sporting facilities for rural towns, he has stated that diverting funds from other budget areas like health is not a viable option.

The May budget for Victoria did not allocate additional funding for the Games beyond the initial $2.6 billion. Discussions with the federal government have not yielded any funds specifically designated for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Federal Minister of Sports, Anika Wells, confirmed that the Albanese administration is working on federal support for the Victorian government. However, other Australian states, including New South Wales, which hosted the 2000 Olympic Games, declined to participate due to financial constraints.

The search for a replacement host for the 2026 Games is now uncertain, but the history of the Games has shown their ability to find willing cities.

The Commonwealth Games Federation’s president, Dame Louise Martin, acknowledges the need for the Games to evolve and modernize to maintain their relevance.

Critics argue that the Games’ colonial origins and inability to attract younger viewers have contributed to the challenges they face.

Finding a new host for the 2026 Games and securing a host for the centenary Games in 2030 are now the immediate priorities for the Commonwealth Games Federation.

British Olympic diver Tom Daley has also used the platform to denounce homophobia in Commonwealth nations, highlighting that half of the 56 member states criminalize same-sex relationships, with seven of them enforcing a maximum life sentence under British colonial regulations.

Also Read: Commonwealth Games 2022: Eldhose Paul Bags Gold And Abdulla Aboobacker Takes Silver in The Men’s Triple Jump


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