Multiple states have ruled out rescuing the 2026 Commonwealth Games after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said his state would no longer be hosting the 12-day event due to budget concerns.
While high-profile politicians have urged state leaders in Western Australia and NSW to bid for the event, the premiers have all but ruled out the idea.
Mr Andrews said hosting the event was no long feasible after cost projections blew out from a budgeted $2.6bn to nearly $7bn.
NSW Premier Chris Minns said the state’s “unprecedented debt” meant it could not commit to the “massive project”.
“I’m not going to commit to a massive project that I’m not confident that we can complete given the huge pressures the government and the people of NSW are already facing,” he said.
“Hosting the Commonwealth Games would be something nice to do, (but) schools and hospitals are must do’s.”
This is despite NSW Opposition Leader Mark Speakman urging the government to consider a bid. The city was the first city in the southern hemisphere to host the event in 1938 before it also hosted the Olympics in 2000.
“With Victorian Labor cancelling Melbourne’s 2026 Commonwealth Games, the NSW government should urgently consider bidding for Sydney to host them,” Mr Speakman tweeted.
“We have our 2000 Olympics infrastructure plus world class sports infrastructure built since under the NSW Liberals/Nationals.”
On the west coast, Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas was quick to advocate for his city to take over hosting duties from Victoria.
“Not often you get a second chance like this,” he said.
“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.”
Later speaking on Triple M’s Xav & Michelle for Breakfast, Mr Zempilas said it would be a “defining” moment for the city.
“We’ve got a huge opportunity to swoop in now, get it at the right price and do something defining for our city in this decade.”
The mayor said the state government could spend about $500m to build an athletes’ village, which could be refurbished to provide housing for about 7000 people once the Games were over.
However, West Australian Premier Roger Cook said the state budget could not accommodate the “ruinously expensive” event.
“Our analysis was consistent with the Victorian government analysis that this would cost a significant amount of money and provide very little return on that investment, providing a highly expensive sugar hit of a 12-day sporting festival,” he said.
South Australia has also officially ruled hosting the Games, again citing the cost as likely to outweigh the economic benefit.
“Successive governments, both Liberal and Labor, have considered hosting the Games and determined the cost would outweigh the economic benefit,” Premier Peter Malinauskas said.
“The previous state government conducted independent financial analysis on hosting the multi-sport competition. It was determined the event would cost $3.5bn, with the economic benefit only amounting to $1.2bn,” a spokesperson said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also withdrew the Sunshine State from the race.
“Even though the Gold Coast is a wonderful venue (and) it does have the venues, the infrastructure, (and) transport, we cannot afford to spend more money on another Games,” she said.
“There may be an opportunity for another state to put their hands up.”
Ms Palaszczuk said Queensland’s priority was the 2032 Olympic Games, which will be funded in partnership with the federal government. She also confirmed the state was “in a “sound financial position”.
“We have 85 per cent of our venues. I think the issue they had in Victoria is they had to build a whole lot of venues. We don’t have to do that,” she said.
While Mr Andrews’ controversial announcement was criticised as being “humiliating” and a “betrayal of regional Victoria” by Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto, the Premier said he couldn’t justify the cost blowout.
“I’m not here to apologise for not spending $7bn to deliver an event,” he told reporters.
“It’s about, do you deliver it at any cost or not? And the answer is we’re not.”
Instead, the government plans to use the funds to support upgrades to sporting facilities and housing projects in rural areas, with Mr Andrews pledging $1bn through a Regional Housing Fund.
He said the scheme would deliver more than 1300 new social and affordable housing across the rural hubs of Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, and Gippsland.