Victoria’s Premier Dan Andrews has cancelled hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games because they were too expensive.
The rights to host the 2026 event were awarded to regional Victoria last year after Birmingham replaced South Africa’s Durban as host of the 2022 Games.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday his government would no longer support the Games because it was clear the cost would exceed $6 billion.
“We were pleased to be asked to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games – but not at any price. I think all Victorians would agree that more than $6 billion is just too much,” said Premier Andrews.
“Frankly, $6 billion to $7 billion for a 12-day sporting event, we are not doing that – that does not represent value for money, that is all costs and no benefit,”he added.
The Victorian government set aside $2.6b for the event, with Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland slated to host their own athletes’ villages and sports programs.
Mr Andrews said the government considered moving the Games to Melbourne, holding fewer sports and having fewer regional hubs, but all options were too expensive.
“None of those options stack up, and we’re not going to be hosting the Games in 2026,”he said.
Treasurer Tim Pallas had been seeking a dollar-for-dollar contribution from the federal government.
Mr Andrews said even if the federal government did come to the party, the Games were not worth the money.
“I wouldn’t spend half of that money even if I got the other half from Canberra, because you know that’s coming at the expense of something else – hospitals, schools, roads,”he said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the decision was one for the Victorian government.
About 100 people based in Geelong were employed to co-ordinate the Games, with some of them expected to lose their jobs, while others had been seconded from other roles.
Regional Victoria became the only bidder for the Games after Durban in South Africa lost the 2022 event, and the original 2026 host city Birmingham had to step in for last year’s competition.
Meetings were held with Commonwealth Games leadership in London on Monday night Australian time and will continue.
Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto and Nationals Leader Peter Walsh described the scrapping as “a massive humiliation for Victoria”.
“The cancellation of the Commonwealth Games is hugely damaging to Victoria’s reputation as a global events leader,”they said in a joint statement.
The Victorian government statement says the main reason we agreed to host the Games was to deliver lasting benefits in housing, tourism and sporting infrastructure for regional Victoria.
While Victoria will no longer host the Games, some infrastructure projects will still go ahead.
There will be $1b spent on more than 1300 new social and affordable housing homes across regional Victoria, $150 million will be spent on tourism and events, and all of the permanent and upgraded sporting facilities planned will go ahead.
The new homes will include a mix of social and affordable housing – and we’ll work with councils, regional partnerships and local communities to determine the right mix of stock and locations for each region.
The government statement says, “Tourism is a vital part of regional Victoria’s economy. A new $150 million Regional Tourism and Events Fund will ensure our regions have the best of everything on offer with new events, new attractions and more accommodations. “
Every one of the permanent new and upgraded sporting infrastructure projects planned as part of the Games will still proceed – and all shall be completed as planned.
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