The Australian state of Victoria pulled out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games on Tuesday citing major cost blow-outs, leaving organisers fuming as they scrambled to keep the multi-sport event afloat. State Premier Daniel Andrews said the initial estimated Aus$2-billion needed to hold the Games would more likely be around Aus$7-billion, which he called “well and truly too much”.
“I’ve made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them. Frankly, $7-billion for a sporting event, we are not doing that,” he said at a press conference in Melbourne.
“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools to host an event that is three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year.
“The Games will not proceed in Victoria in 2026. We have informed Commonwealth Games authorities of our decision to seek to terminate the contract,” he added.
The event — featuring 20 sports and 26 disciplines — was due to be held across five regional hubs in the state, including Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland and Shepparton, with each having its own athletes’ village.
Andrews said his team had looked at cutting the number of hubs or even moving the Games to the Victoria state capital Melbourne, but “none of those options stack up”. Instead, he announced a Aus$2 billion support package for regional Victoria.
Andrews refused to say how much it was costing to terminate the agreement, but insisted talks with the Commonwealth Games Federation were amicable. But the Federation was not happy, blasting the move as “hugely disappointing”.
“We are disappointed that we were only given eight hours’ notice and that no consideration was given to discussing the situation to jointly find solutions prior to this decision being reached by the government,” it said in a statement.
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