18 Jul 2023

Victoria cancels plans to host 2026 Commonwealth Games due to financial constraints

12:24 pm on 18 July 2023
File photo. Australia's Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews speaks during a press conference in Melbourne on 16 July, 2021.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. File photo Photo: AFP

The Victorian government has cancelled plans to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to financial issues.

The government announced in 2022 that the games would be hosted across regional Victorian centres, including Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton.

"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," Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Andrews said the true cost was likely to be closer to A$6b or A$7b and the state simply could not afford it.

"I will not take money out of hospitals and schools to host an even that is three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year."

Andrews told a media conference it had not been a hard decision to cancel the Games.

"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.

Andrews announced a A$2b spending package for regional Victoria to make up for the loss of the Games, which was to act as a boost for facilities in the host centres.

That money includes a $1b regional housing fund to build 1300 new homes across regional Victoria.

Planned upgrades to sporting facilities that were to accompany the Games would still go ahead, the government said.

They included upgrading Eureka Stadium in Ballarat to seat 10,000 spectators and upgrades to Bendigo Stadium.

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.

The Victorian opposition responded to the news, calling it a "massive humiliation" for the state.

"This decision is a betrayal of regional Victoria and confirms that Victoria is broke and Labor simply cannot manage major projects without huge cost blowouts," Opposition Leader John Pesutto said in a statement.

- This story was first published by the ABC