Commonwealth Games: Victoria withdraws as host for 2026 Games as costs blow out to A$6-7 billion

Australia's state of Victoria has formally withdrawn as host of the next Commonwealth Games in 2026.

Premier Daniel Andrews has addressed this decision, along with Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan and Commonwealth Games Minister Harriett Shing, describing it as "not a difficult decision".

The Games were due to proceed under a new hosting model, spreading events across the state, rather than concentrated in one city, as every other previous Games have operated. The concept was designed to inject money into regional centres after the COVID-19 pandemic, but cost blowouts estimated at A$ 6-7 billion have put paid to that plan.

"I've made a lot of difficult calls in this job, this is not one of them," said Andrews. "We're simply not going to invest that money."

"That's well and truly too much for a 12-day sporting event. I think all Victorians would agree that more than $6b is just too much."

The state government had budgeted $2.6 billion towards the Games and that will now be diverted into other projects, including all the planned sporting facilities, and $1 billion in "social and affordable" housing across Victoria.

"Each and every  one of the legacy benefits will all be delivered in full," said Andrews. "One of the biggest challenges our state faces... housing is our biggest challenge.

"One billion dollars for a least 1300 units - and we may be able to get more - will be a massive boost."

Commonwealth Games authorities are fuming that they were given only eight hours' notice of the withdrawal and now face the challenge of finding another venue, when no-one else had shown any interest in taking on the event during the bidding process.

"Since awarding Victoria the Games, the Government has made decisions to include more sports and an additional regional hub, and changed plans for venues, all of which have added considerable expense, often against the advice of the Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games Australia," said the federation.

That dismay is shared across this side of the Tasman.

"We are incredibly disappointed to learn that Victoria has withdrawn from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games," said NZ Olympic Committee chief executive Nicki Nicol.

"This unexpected announcement is unsettling for New Zealand team athletes who were working towards a Games close to home in just under three years time. We are looking to the Commonwealth Games Federation, as it begins a process to appoint a new host for 2026."

New Zealand is currently investigating a possible bid for the 2034 Commonwealth Games, based on the same regional model proposed for Victoria.