- By Tiffany Turnbull
- BBC News, Sydney
The 2026 Commonwealth Games have been thrown into doubt after the Australian state of Victoria canceled plans to host it because it was out of budget.
The CGF struggled to find a host city before Victoria volunteered in April 2022.
But the prime minister said the projected cost had now tripled and was “really too good for the state”.
CGF called the decision “tremendously disappointing” and said it was “committed to finding a solution”.
The Commonwealth Games were only canceled during World War II.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday that Victoria was “happy to help” when he was approached to host last year, but “not at any cost”.
Organizers had originally estimated that the event – which is being hosted in cities such as Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat – would cost A$2.6 billion (£1.4 billion; $1.8 billion) and the state government has described it as a boost to regions.
But the 12-day tournament is now expected to cost more than A$6 billion, Andrews said, adding that the new figure is “more than double the estimated economic benefit” it would bring to Victoria.
“I’ve made a lot of tough calls, a lot of very tough decisions in this job. This isn’t one of them,” he told a news conference.
“It’s all cost and no benefit.”
The government will continue to complete the stadium upgrades it promised before the Games, with the money it saves now being used for housing and tourism initiatives.
Andrew said the government considered “every option” including moving the games to Melbourne, before informing the CGF of their decision.
He added that “friendly and productive” meetings were held in London overnight.
But the board said in a statement on Tuesday that it was shocked by the decision.
“We are disappointed that we only received eight hours’ notice and no consideration was given to discussing the situation to find common solutions,” she said in a statement.
CGF said the A$6 billion estimate is double the figure they were notified of at a board meeting last month, and that the increase in costs was due to the “unique regional delivery model” Victoria had chosen for the Games.
She added that the government had made decisions to include more sports and changed stadium plans, often against the advice of the NFL and its Australian arm, all of which added “significant expenses”.
Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesoto said the decision was a “gross affront” to the state and “hugely damaging” to its reputation as a leader in world events.
The CEO of Commonwealth Games Australia agreed, saying the cost explosion referred to was “a huge exaggeration” and that he would try to find another Australian host for the 2026 Games.
Australia has hosted the Commonwealth Games five times – including on the Gold Coast in 2018 and in the Victorian capital Melbourne in 2006 – but all of the country’s states on Tuesday ruled out the event.
Organizers have had great difficulty finding viable hosts for the tournament in recent years.
Durban, South Africa, was originally scheduled to host the 2022 Games, but was stripped of the hosting rights in 2017 after running into financial troubles and missing key deadlines. Birmingham agreed to host nine months later.
CGF originally hoped to name a host for the 2026 Games in 2019, but several hopeful bidders withdrew from the process due to cost concerns, leaving it unable to retain Victoria as host until 2022.
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