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Melbourne pulls out as host of 2026 Commonwealth Games

The Victoria state government in Australia has pulled out after the expected cost of the Games soared to six billion dollars

On Tuesday, in a surprising turn of events, the government of Victoria, Australia, announced that they will terminate the contract and no longer host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. The state was awarded the 2026 Games in April 2022 for the second time in 20 years.

Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, Victoria premier Daniel Andrews informed the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) of the government’s decision to withdraw from hosting the event. The CGF expressed disappointment, claiming they were only given eight hours’ notice and that there was no opportunity for joint discussions or seeking alternative solutions before the government made the decision.

Victoria said the original forecast budget for the Games was AUD$2.6 billion, but cost predictions have since escalated to an estimated AUD$6 billion. The increase is attributed to the unique regional model chosen by the state of Victoria during the bidding process. The financial costs behind setting up infrastructure to host the Games around the state played a significant role in the government’s decision to withdraw as hosts.

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This marks the second consecutive Commonwealth Games where the original host has withdrawn. Durban, South Africa was awarded the 2022 Commonwealth Games but faced financial challenges that led to its withdrawal. Birmingham, U.K., ended up stepping as the host city five years before the 2022 event, but with less than 1,000 days until the opening ceremony, the CGF faces a short timeframe to find a new host and develop infrastructure.

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Several potential host cities have expressed interest in stepping in, including Sydney in New South Wales and Adelaide in South Australia. There have also been discussions about the possibility of bids from countries like India or Malaysia. Before Victoria was awarded the Games, there was speculation about Birmingham hosting the event back-to-back–something that may be more appealing to the city following the success of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The CGF acknowledged the situation in a statement and is now actively exploring various options to find a solution that aligns with the best interests of the athletes and the wider Commonwealth Sports Movement.