Ward Games rejected in provincial Victoria as government diverts dispensed cash

In short: The government has cancelled its plans to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, saying the cost of hosting would be too high
What’s next? The government will divert funds initially earmarked for the Games into sporting facilities and housing in regional Victoria
The Australian sports community is lamenting the Victorian government’s decision to cancel plans to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games in regional Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday that Victoria would withdraw from its Commonwealth Games hosting duties, citing skyrocketing costs that could have seen the Games cost at least $6 billion.

Initial estimates had the Games contributing more than $3 billion to the Victorian economy.

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“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,” Mr Andrews said.

“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.”

In lieu of Games funding, Mr Andrews announced a $2 billion spending package for regional Victoria, $600 million less than the initially promised investment into hosting the Games.

The package includes a $1 billion Regional Housing Fund to build 1,300 new homes across regional Victoria.

Daniel Andrews was asked what the cost would be to terminate the state’s agreement to host the Games, but said he would not “speculate”.

“I’m not going to negotiate with the Commonwealth Games authorities via the media in Melbourne when I’ve got a team of people doing exactly that in London,” he said.

Mr Andrews’s demeanour was a far cry from the celebratory mood he was in last year, as he stood in the middle of Ballarat’s Eureka Stadium announcing the Games.

“A games like no other, exactly what we promised” he said in April last year.

“We’re very, very confident that this will deliver jobs, it’ll deliver better facilities, better housing and it’ll be a showcase to the world.”

No other cities have yet come forward offering to host the Games, with every other Australian state and territory leader making statements on Tuesday saying they would not take up the hosting role vacated by Victoria.

Games chief lays blame at feet of Victorian government
Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips came down hard on the government, claiming it “wilfully ignored recommendations to move events to Melbourne” and instead “remained wedded” to expensive temporary venues in regional Victoria.

“The velodrome is the best example of that. You have a purpose built velodrome here at John Cain Arena, but we were continuing to prosecute running a Games in a temporary venue in Bendigo that would have no legacy value,” Mr Phillips said.

“These are some of the conversations we had with the government over some months … but [they] didn’t want to hear it.”

Mr Phillips called the new projected costs “a gross exaggeration” and not reflective of costs presented to the 2026 Organising Committee as recently as June.

Mr Phillips said he would be interested in seeing how the government costed its estimates of $4 billion to host the Games in Melbourne, particularly given the roughly $1.2 billion price tag for the 2018 Gold Coast Games and the $1.8 billion price tag for 2022 Birmingham.

“I’m not sure how we get a leap of more than double that to run the Games,” Mr Phillips said.

“I find that a little hard to believe.”

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