Commonwealth Games: Future not in jeopardy after 'bombshell' Victoria withdrawal

  • 19/07/2023

Victoria's shock withdrawal as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games will have no bearing on the event's future, with NZ officials adamant both the next edition - and those beyond - will go ahead.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has decided the Games are too expensive to stage, citing cost blowouts of A$6-7 billion.

The decision has caught officials around the Commonwealth offguard and raised concerns the event could be in jeopardy, with the question becoming who could step in to take over hosting duties.

New Zealand has been ruled out as a potential host, preferring to focus on a potential bid for the 2034 Games.

NZ Olympic Committee chief executive Nicki Nicol admits she's disappointed, but isn't worried the situation will have any long-term impact on the Games.

"Definitely not," Nicol told Newshub. "It was only 12 months ago that we were in Birmingham and it was such a success. 

"For the Commonwealth, for what sport does in the Commonwealth, we know it's got a really unique space.

Commonweath Games opening ceremony in Melbourne in 2006.
Commonweath Games opening ceremony in Melbourne in 2006. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Disappointing, because a lot of people have put a lot of work into it. I feel sorry for the teams involved and also for us. 

"It's unsettling for our athletes."

Commonwealth Games Federation vice-president Kereyn Smith has described Victoria's withdrawal as "rogue and disrespectful".

"This is a bombshell," Smith told Newshub. "We had no warning.

"It's really rogue, and I think disrespectful for Commonwealth Sport, for Australian sport, to the city and the people of Victoria, who are very proud and the best hosts in the world.

"I just think it's unfathomable."

Andrews claimed costs of about A$7b to host, grossly at odds with last year's Birmingham organisers, who spent just over $1.6b.

Smith has been among those flabbergasted at what she feels are financial fallacies.

"What's particularly damaging is the figures that are being bandied around, talking a figure of seven billion is beyond the realms of anything we'd ever dream of," she said.

"Deeply disappointing that Melbourne is sitting there with all of these facilities, ready to go and seemingly, not even being considered.

"Their ambition just got beyond what they were able to deliver."

Smith says it's too early to name any other potential candidates to host in 2026, but hinted that a "deeply embarrassed" Australia may step in to salvage the situation elsewhere.

"It's a really damaging way to approach an announcement of this significance," she noted. 

"Particularly, when I think about the ambition of Australia, with their green-and-gold runway through 10 years of world class through to the Olympics, and I think it just undoes that uncertainty and confidence that was there."