False start: Commonwealth Games officials unload on Victorian Govt

The Andrews Government has come under fire for axing the 2026 Commonwealth Games, with officials saying the claimed $6 billion bill is 50 per cent higher than a month ago.

Jul 18, 2023, updated Jul 18, 2023
Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips after the Victorian Government's decision to can the 2026 event. Photo: AAP/James Ross

Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips after the Victorian Government's decision to can the 2026 event. Photo: AAP/James Ross

Premier Dan Andrews on Tuesday morning announced Victoria was canning the event as it would cost the state up to $7 billion, while only $2.6 billion had been budgeted.

South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania all quickly ruled out making their own bids to host the 2026 Games.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) reacted with shock and outrage to Victorian’s move.

CGA chief executive Craig Phillips said the cancellation was “beyond disappointing … a comprehensive letdown”.

“Australia, until now, has had a great reputation for hosting great Games,” Phillips said.

“The Victorian government, however, has jeopardised Melbourne and Victoria’s standing as a sporting capital of the world.”

Phillips said the claimed cost blowout was a “gross exaggeration”.

“Beyond this, the Victorian Government wilfully ignored recommendations to move events to purpose-built stadia in Melbourne and in fact remained wedded to proceeding with expensive temporary venues in regional Victoria,” he said.

“CGA would welcome the opportunity to review the financial analysis prepared independently of those who have been involved at the coal face of planning and delivery.”

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The London-based CGF said the cost of the event quoted by Andrews was wildly different from that given just weeks ago.

“The numbers quoted to us today of $6 billion are 50 per cent more than those advised to the Organising Committee board at its meeting in June,” the CGF said in a statement.

“These figures are attributed to price escalation primarily due to the unique regional delivery model that Victoria chose for these Games, and in particular relate to village and venue builds and transport infrastructure.”

The statement added that Victoria had included extra sports and an additional regional hub, and changed plans for venues which added expense and were “often against the advice of the Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games Australia”.

The CGF said the state government only offered eight hours’ notice before making the public announcement and did not consider working together towards a solution.

The Federation said it remained committed to running a 2026 event and the future of the Games.

“We are taking advice on the options available to us and remain committed to finding a solution for the Games in 2026 that is in the best interest of our athletes and the wider Commonwealth Sport Movement,” it said.

When asked about the future of the Games, CGA chief executive Craig Phillips was bullish.

“We know there is strong interest in the Games and strong love of the Games here in Australia,” he said.

“We’ll re-set after this and move on, and look to see whether we can continue to be the host nation for 2026.”

-with AAP

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