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Victoria cancels the 2026 Commonwealth Games after scrambling to find a host!

As a result of the left-wing Australian government of Victoria abandoning plans to host the tournament in 2026, the Commonwealth Games’ existence is in jeopardy.

The decision to cancel the sports event was not tough, according to state leader Daniel Andrews, since the price had tripled to 7 billion Australian dollars (£3.6 billion).

However, detractors contend that he has brought Australia’s image as a sports event host into disrepute and jeopardised the Commonwealth Games’ very existence.

‘Last year, when the Commonwealth Games officials came to us and asked for assistance in finding a host city for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, we as a state were pleased to assist, but obviously not at any cost,’ he added. This is not one of the toughest decisions I’ve made in my career.

The games, according to Mr. Andrews, were not worth the money. It’s very evident that we won’t spend $6–$7 billion on a 12-day athletic event, he remarked.

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We don’t just follow the herd; we follow what’s right and what would just be wrong.

Craig Phillips, the CEO of Commonwealth Games Australia, asserts that Andrews and his officials repeatedly disregarded advice while planning the 12-day athletic event, adding more disciplines and utilising temporary venues rather than making use of existing facilities.

Mr. Phillips said that Andrews was ‘grossly inflating’ the expense of staging the event, which was first staged in 1930. Experts worry that this catastrophe might be the last straw for the Olympics, which have already suffered from anti-royal sentiment and various countries’ republicanization or attempts.

The decision to pull the plug on the 2026 Commonwealth Games has also been slammed by sports stars and coaches.

The original budget for the games was estimated to be around 2.6 billion dollars (£1.3 billion) but ballooned out to nearly triple that.

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Mr Andrews said they have had ‘cordial discussions’ with the Commonwealth authorities in London and will continue discussions with them on Tuesday morning.

He said: ‘It is not appropriate and it is against the interest of taxpayers for me to speculate and conduct a negotiation with people on the other side of the world at a press conference here today.

‘In the meantime we are going to let our team that are in London work through these issues.’

Mr Andrews said the estimates were ‘clearly under the actual cost’.

The Victorian state government are instead going to use the money budgeted to improve sporting complexes and housing in regional Victoria.

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The 2026 Commonwealth Games were set to be held in regional Victoria across towns like Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton.

Following the announcement, Basil Zempilas, mayor of Perth in Western Australia state, called for the games to come to the city.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘COMMONWEALTH GAMES… Not often you get a second chance like this @CityofPerth.

‘Here’s how it should work – we tell the @thecgf how much we will pay. We tell them ‘here are our venues’ you make YOUR games fit around what we have.

‘Perth is in the driver’s seat they need us.’

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Australia held the games on the Gold Coast in 2018 and in Melbourne in 2006.

Commonwealth Games Australia boss Craig Phillips launched a scathing attack on Victorian Labor and Mr Andrews, saying he first heard that the games would be axed during a phone call early on Tuesday morning.

He said: ‘The stated cost overruns in our opinion are a gross exaggeration and not reflective of the operation costs presented to the Victorian 2026 Organising Committee as recently as June this year.

‘The Victorian government… has jeopardised Melbourne and Victoria’s standing as a sporting capital of the world.

‘Coming back to existing venues, particularly here in Melbourne, (we) talked about the velodrome earlier. But we were told very clearly by the Victorian Government, ‘not interested’.’

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‘(It’s) Absolutely embarrassing. Even the most recent figures on a survey that’s done globally about sporting cities, if you like, Melbourne had already slipped from 10th to 23.

‘I can’t see it going north after today’s announcement and I would be very careful if I was an international sporting body coming in and doing business in this state in the future.’

The Victorian government repeatedly ignored warnings that the cost of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games would blow out, it has been reported.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the cancellation of the event on Tuesday morning, with the reason behind the shock move down to the state’s money woes, with debt forecast to be $135.4billion in 2024, rising to $171.4billion by 2026-27.

The rights to host the 2026 event were awarded to regional Victoria last year after not one of the 70 countries in the Commonwealth Games Federation put their hand up.

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In a dramatic press conference, Mr Andrews said: ‘What’s become clear is the cost of hosting these games is not the $2.6billion which was allocated, it is at least $6billion or $7billion.’

Now a senior figure in the event industry has revealed that Andrews’ government was warned that holding the event spread across regional areas instead of in Melbourne alone would result in costs going through the roof.

‘But the Victorian government wouldn’t be told,’ the official – who chose to remain anonymous – told the Australian.

‘With the Games being held in so many different regional places, the cost was going to be five times the amount [of holding it in Melbourne only].

Another source told the publication, ‘Event industry professionals had eyebrows raised about why you would leave so many world-class venues empty.

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‘They had all the infrastructure in and around Melbourne.’

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to axe the 2026 Commonwealth Games could be the final nail in the coffin for the international sporting event.

Its long term future is now under a cloud as a row erupted with Games chiefs strenuously denying Victoria’s $6billion cost projections to stage the event.

They are concerned the premier’s budget estimates will put off anyone else from stepping in to take over the hosting rights.

But experts warned 18 months ago that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games could be the last ever after worldwide interest in hosting the event vanished in recent years.

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The 2022 Games were originally planned to be held in Durban in South Africa but the city’s plans were scrapped over concerns about the costs spiralling out of control.

‘We gave it our best shot, but we can’t go beyond,’ South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula admitted at the time.

‘If the country says we don’t have this money, we can’t [host it].’

Birmingham, the UK’s second biggest city, stepped in to take over the 2022 event after none of the 70 countries in the Commonwealth Games Federations showed any interest in hosting it.

The city in the English Midlands was originally scheduled to hold the Games in 2026, which then left organisers desperate to fill another new gap in the schedule.

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A lack of interest in the event continued when a ceremony in Rwanda in 2019 to announce the hosts of the 2026 and 2030 Games had to be cancelled after a lack of willing participants.

Another similar hosting announcement in 2020 was also cancelled because of the Covid pandemic.

Games organisers were then forced to skip the usual request for bids and instead directly approached Victoria to beg the state to host the four-yearly extravaganza.

Premier Andrews agreed at the time on the basis that it would be held in regional Victoria rather than in Melbourne in a bid to boost rural economies.

But on Tuesday Mr Andrews said the projected $6-7billion cost was beyond what the budget could afford or justify for a 12-day sporting event.

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On Tuesday Commonwealth Games Australia insisted the budget blowout was inaccurate and not a true reflection of how much it would cost to stage the event.

The Commonwealth Games Federation said it received eight hours’ notice that the Games contract would be terminated and the government did not discuss solutions with it before reaching the decision.

It said the Victorian government had made the Games more expensive by including more sports and an additional regional hub, often against advice.

The decision now throws the entire future of the Games into doubt.

In its 93-year history, the event has almost always been hosted in the UK, Australia/New Zealand and Canada, with Jamaica, India and Malaysia the only other one-off hosts.

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With Victoria now pulling the plug on 2026, there are concerns over who will be able to rapidly fill the gap, and the message it sends for future hosts.

‘It means that we need to now obviously find ourselves a host who will work with CGF,’ said Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips on Tuesday.

‘Whether that could be here in Australia… we’re certainly interested in talking to any state that may have an appetite for hosting the Games.

‘We’ll be doing what we can to make sure that the numbers produced today by the Victorian Government are not taken on face value.

‘It’s certainly not a strong indication of what the Games would actually cost.’

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Canada was widely predicted to host the 2030 event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Games, returning to Hamilton, Ontario, the original venue of the first Games in 1930.

Because of the centenary celebrations, it is unlikely the city will be prepared to move the Games forward to 2026 to fill the gap created by Victoria.

As one analyst predicted in 2022, when Birmingham stepped in to replace Durban, ‘it seems like the whole thing could collapse unless decisions can be made quickly’.

Jack Revell wrote in The Latch in February 2022: ‘There appears to be little interest from many of Britain’s former colonies.

‘After 92 years, only three countries are at all interested in keeping the tired imperial sporting event alive, and even then, only at a push.

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‘With top-tier international sporting events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup drawing more and more attention each round, second level events like the Commonwealth Games could soon be seen as too much hassle to bother with.’

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