Due to budget overruns, the Australian state of Victoria has canceled its intentions to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) struggled to locate a host until April 2022, when Victoria volunteered. However, according to the state's chief executive, the projected cost has now tripled and become "well and truly too much" for the state to endure.
CGF characterized the decision as "extremely disheartening" and stated that it is "committed to finding a solution." The Commonwealth Games are a multi-sport international event conducted every four years. Only during World War II have they ever been canceled.
To be eligible to compete, athletes must be from one of the Commonwealth's 56 member states. The majority of Commonwealth nations were once part of the British Empire. Premier Daniel Andrews of Victoria stated on Tuesday that his state was "happy to help out" when asked to host last year, but "not at any cost."
Organizers initially anticipated the event - hosted in cities including Geelong, Bendigo, and Ballarat - would cost A$2.6bn (£1.4bn; $1.8bn), and the state government had billed it as a boost for regional economies.
Mr. Andrews stated that the 12-day tournament was now anticipated to cost more than A$6 billion, which was "more than twice the estimated economic benefit" it would bring to Victoria. The government will still complete the pledged stadium renovations prior to the games, but it will redirect the savings to housing and tourism initiatives.
Before informing CGF of their decision, Mr. Andrew stated that the government had considered "every option", including relocating the games to Melbourne. Overnight, he added, "amicable and productive" meetings took place in London. The governing body, however, stated in a statement released on Tuesday that the decision caught them by surprise.
They are disappointed that they were only given an eight hours' notice and that no consideration was given to discussing the situation to jointly find solutions. CGF stated that the estimate of A$6 billion is double the amount they were informed of at a board meeting last month. The expense increase was due to the "unique regional delivery model" chosen by Victoria for the games.
It was stated that the government's decision to add more sports and modify venue plans, frequently against the advice of the CGF and its Australian branch, resulted in a substantial increase in costs.
John Pesutto, the leader of the Victorian opposition, described the decision as "massive humiliation" for the state and "hugely damaging" to its reputation as a global events leader.
The chief executive officer of Commonwealth Games Australia concurred, stating that the cited cost overrun was a "gross exaggeration" and that the organization would seek out an alternative Australian host for the 2026 games.
Australia has hosted the Commonwealth Games five times, most recently on the Gold Coast in 2018 and in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, in 2006, but on Tuesday, all of the country's states ruled out hosting the event.
In recent years, organizers have had a difficult time locating viable tournament hosts. CGF had intended to name a host for the 2026 games in 2019, but several hopeful bidders withdrew due to cost concerns, leaving it unable to confirm Victoria as the host until 2022.