The Victorian Government has recently announced its decision to withdraw as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games. This move is primarily attributed to financial challenges, prompting the government to redirect the allocated funds towards a new “regional fund” instead.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed this decision, highlighting that the projected costs for hosting the event have significantly escalated, reaching billions of dollars. Last year, when approached by the Commonwealth Games Authorities to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, Victoria willingly volunteered. However, this support was contingent upon ensuring long-term benefits and a reasonable price tag.
The current assessment reveals that the actual cost of hosting the Games in 2026 would far exceed the initial budget of $2.6 billion, potentially amounting to $6-7 billion. Such a substantial increase has rendered the expense unjustifiable for a 12-day sporting event. Premier Andrews firmly stated that diverting funds from essential sectors like healthcare and education to finance an event with costs three times higher than initially estimated is not a viable option. Moreover, he expressed doubts about whether even a $7 billion budget would be sufficient.
Despite the cancellation, Premier Andrews emphasised that discussions with the authorities have been constructive and ongoing. Efforts are being made to find a resolution. He acknowledged the unprecedented nature of a multi-city Commonwealth Games, which resulted in cost estimates that significantly underestimated the actual expenses.
To ensure that the previously allocated funds are put to good use, the $2 billion set aside for the Commonwealth Games will now be directed towards a comprehensive regional package. This package encompasses several key components. First and foremost, all the planned permanent sporting facilities that were intended to serve as legacies from the Games will still be built. Additionally, a substantial regional tourism fund will be established, along with a package of support for community-based sports. Significantly, there will be a $1 billion boost for social and affordable housing throughout regional Victoria.
Premier Andrews had previously described the Victorian Government’s approach to hosting the Commonwealth Games as one that highlights the unique aspects of regional Victoria. The vision was to create an event that would be predominantly centred in regional areas, emphasising their contributions and benefits. Although the hosting plans have been abandoned, the government remains committed to supporting regional development.
The 2026 Commonwealth Games were initially scheduled to take place from 17 to 29 March 2026, with Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland, and Shepparton playing significant roles in the hosting arrangements.