Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews’ decision to scrap the 2026 Commonwealth Games could be the final nail in the coffin for the international sporting event.
Pundits warned 18 months ago that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games could be the last ever after global interest in hosting the event faded in recent years.
The 2022 Games were originally scheduled to be held in Durban, South Africa, but plans for the city were scrapped due to concerns over skyrocketing costs.
“We did our best, but we can’t go beyond that,” South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula admitted at the time.
“If the country says we don’t have that money, we can’t [host it].’
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews (pictured)’s decision to scrap the 2026 Commonwealth Games could be the final nail in the coffin of the historic international sporting event
On Tuesday, the state government said the projected cost of $7billion was more than their budget could afford or justify for a 12-day sporting event (pictured, the Australian netball team celebrate victory in Birmingham in 2022)
Birmingham, the UK’s second-largest city, stepped in to resume the 2022 event after none of the 70 Commonwealth Games federation countries showed any interest in hosting it.
The English Midlands city was originally set to stage the Games in 2026, leaving event organizers desperate to fill the new gap in the schedule.
The lack of interest in the event continued when a ceremony to announce the hosts of the 2026 and 2030 Games due to be held in Kigali, 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 bidding and instead directly approached Victoria to plead with the state to host the quadrennial extravaganza.
Premier Andrews agreed at the time on the basis that it would be held in regional Victoria rather than Melbourne in a bid to boost rural economies.
But on Tuesday, Mr Andrews said the projected cost of $6-7 billion was more than the budget could afford or justify for a 12-day sporting event.
This decision now calls into question the entire future of the Games.
Over 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 one-time hosts.
With Victoria now pulling the plug on 2026, there are concerns about who will be able to quickly fill the void and the message that sends to future hosts.
It was widely expected that Canada would host the 2030 event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Games, returning to Hamilton, Ontario, the original location of the first Games in 1930.
Due to centenary celebrations, the city is unlikely to be ready to push 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 everything could fall apart unless decisions can be made quickly”.
Jack Revell wrote in The Latch in February 2022: “There seems to be little interest from many former British colonies.
“After 92 years, only three countries are interested in keeping the tired imperial sporting event alive, and even then only with a boost.
“With top-tier international sporting events like the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup attracting more and more attention at every turn, second-tier events like the Commonwealth Games may soon be seen as too much. complicated.”
With Victoria now pulling the plug on 2026, there are worries about who will be able to quickly fill the void and what message it sends to future hosts (pictured, Australian athletes at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games
The Commonwealth Games Federation said the decision was hugely disappointing and blamed the rising costs on the decision to host it in the regions.
“This is extremely disappointing for the Commonwealth Sports 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% higher than those reported to the Organizing Committee Board at its June meeting.
“These figures are attributed to price escalation primarily due to the unique regional delivery model that Victoria has chosen for these Games, and relates in particular to village and venue builds and transport infrastructure.”