Commonwealth Games 2026 Cancelled

Blaming a mammoth cost blowout, the Andrews government has axed the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement at a snap but lengthy media briefing this morning.

“Last year when the Commonwealth games authorities approached us and needed someone to step into host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, as a state we were happy to help out but, of course, not at any price and only if there was lasting benefit for Victorian communities and benefit for the whole state,” the Premier told the media scrum gathered

“What’s become clear is that the cost of hosting these games in 2026 is not the $2.6 billion which was budgeted and allocated and is sitting, the vast, vast majority of which has not been spent.

“It is not $2.6 billion, it is in fact at least $6 billion and could be as high as $7 billion and … I think it could be more than that.”

Far cry from an excited premier who only last year announced the successful bid to host the sporting extravaganza in regional Victoria. And now, no question even to move it the city. When asked if the government had considered other options, including to host the games in Melbourne, he said:

“We have looked at Melbourne, less sports and less hubs. We’ve looked at every conceivable option.” he said.

According to the premier, any option would end up costing the state “far in excess” of the $2.6 billion that was budgeted for the state.

“All of them represent more cost than there is benefit, and on that basis, none of those options stack up, and we’re not going to be hosting the Games in 2026.”

The revised estimates suggest the cost of hosting the games could be between $6 and $7 billion.

“Our consultations with industry, all of our preparatory work tells us. 6- $7 billion is well and truly too much for a 12-day sporting event,” the premier said.

“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools in order to fund an event that is three times the cost is estimated and budgeted for last year.”

Instead, the Andrews government has announced a $2 billion regional funding package. It includes $1 billion for social housing in country Victoria – at least 1300 houses.

“Frankly, $6-7 billion for a sporting event – we are not doing that. That does not represent value for money, that is all cost and no benefit…We will instead deliver all and more of the legacy benefits in housing, sporting infrastructure, tourism and we will unpack all that tomorrow and throughout the week,” the premier added.

He said negotiations were continuing with Games authorities.

It is true that this decision is going to be embarrassing for Victorians. Only last month on June 8, the minister for Commonwealth Games legacy Harriet SHING told the parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee:

“Thank you for this opportunity to talk with you and the committee today about the wonderful opportunities we have in welcoming the Commonwealth Games to Victoria, and specifically to rural and regional Victoria, in 2026.”

Also read: Opposition’s Bev McArthur questions Commonwealth Games arrangements

Minister Shing claimed the 2026 games will be a sporting festival “that no-one will forget and that people will enjoy and treasure for generations to come.”

The cost of $2.6 billion was also confirmed and the benefits of hosting the event were also reiterated.

“There is the $3 billion that we will see contributed to Victoria’s economy – 7500 jobs created before, during and after the games – and we are making sure that we have villages that provide opportunities to address gaps not just in the hub cities that are hosting these games but more broadly.”

Opposition’s Mrs Bev McArthur, who grilled minister Shing on June 8 in the PAEC meeting had this to say on the announcement:

“This news is humiliating but sadly predictable.  Anyone who understood the inadequacy of Regional Victorian infrastructure already knew that trying to host an international event across five different hubs was a recipe for disaster. 

 “The $2-2.6bn estimate for this foolhardy proposal was idiotic from the start.  Victorians deserve to know how much this incompetence has cost the state already – in staff employed and contracts let – as well as the size of the penalty fee resulting from our failure to deliver.  This is humiliating for Victoria’s pride, shredding our reputation as a major events capital, but it’s also a financial blow to our broke state.”

“…The brass-neck of his(Daniel Andrews’) statement “I’m not going to apologise for not spending $7bn on this 12 day sporting event” fools no-one…”.

The leader of the Opposition John Pesutto and Nationals’ leader Peter Walsh also issued a a joint statement saying:

“The Andrews Government’s decision to scrap the 2026 Commonwealth Games is a massive humiliation for Victoria.

“The cancellation of the Commonwealth Games is hugely damaging to Victoria’s reputation as a global events leader.”

The government’s decision to cancel the games is not palatable by any means. But the post COVID-19 economy’s volatilities seem to be having a direct impact on day-to-day assessments of what is required in health, education and cost-of-living pressures.

“It is extremely difficult to comprehend and reconcile today’s outcome from minister Harriet Shing’s answers to the PAEC on the games on June 8. But if the experts now have written off any tangible benefits surplus, it would be utter economic profligacy of the government to host ‘the photo ops’ with borrowed money – forcing our children to keep on paying off our bills”, my editor Dinesh Malhotra says.

He welcomes the government’s commitment today to deliver the regional infrastructure in Victoria despite the axing of Commonwealth games 2026.

Once the dust is settled, the decision will be seen as economically responsible one, particularly with the premier announcing the infrastructure spending budgeted for regional Victoria – will be delivered.

According to the government media release, it will be infrastructure projects delivery minus the waste of putting up temporary structures and then pulling them down.

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