Australia’s Delay in Finding 2026 Commonwealth Games Host Draws Criticism
The Executive Chief of Commonwealth Games Australia, Craig Phillips, was on the hot seat at the recent Senate inquiry questioning the future of the Games. After the Victorian Government pulled the pin on the hosting of the 2026 games due to additional unseen costs, there has been a scramble to find a replacement city to host the Games.
Commonwealth Games Australia declared that there could be up to a year delay on the planning of the next Commonwealth Games, pushing the event back to 2027.
“We don’t want to rush to a no, we want to make sure we are ready before we start to have conversations with government, we have to make sure our case is right and where it is right now it’s not right”, Phillips states after failing to produce a blueprint ready for potential host cities. He claims that they won’t be able to reach a decision until early next year, not giving the city and bodying governments much time for further planning and development.
The mayors of both the Gold Coast and Perth have offered their cities forward as potential replacements. However, the Queensland and Western Australian governments have put a stop to this idea and resisted making a hosting bid due to the Victorian Government’s estimated cost of the Games. They claimed the total cost of the games surpassed their initial estimate by over $5 billion, leaving the other State governments reluctant to take on the responsibility. The Victorian government has offered to pay $380 million in compensation for their late withdrawal, other governments seem to believe this won’t even make a scratch on the total spending of hosting.
Phillips stated that Commonwealth Games Australia needed to undertake efforts to “dismantle” the “price tag” associated with the event as set by the Victorian government before any blueprint plans can be made and brought before hosts.
“Right now in the marketplace, there is a price tag of 6-7 billion dollars, and we have to take the time to dismantle that”, Phillips stated.
Liberal senator and member of the investigating committee Anne Ruston raised her concern throughout the inquiry and questioned Commonwealth Games Australian on their urgency to find a solution to the issue. Ms Ruston claims she found it “surprising” that there have been no solid plans or an inkling of any type of solution.
“I’ve got to say from the outside this all looks like everyone has packed their bags up and gone home and are just waiting for it to all roll by,” she said.
This has raised concerns for the athletes set to compete in the Games. The Commonwealth Games are one the biggest events and achievements our athletes can experience. With the lack of efficiency in planning the event, it begs the question of how much we support the success of the athletes and sends an unwanted message that the government and the governing body don’t seem to care about the going forward of the Commonwealth Game. Phillips has also mentioned in the inquiry that a possible “scaled-back” version of the games could be on the cards, they would rob the athletes of competing on a global stage with such high stakes.
Phillips would like to see the hosting of the event in Australia and believes it is vital for the Australian sports scene but agrees that their might have to be an offshore deal to secure the Games taking place.
“Ideally we would like to find a solution in Australia but if the best solution is one that combines a joint event with Australia and the UK, or Australia and New Zealand … or if the games go offshore, our perspective is we need a game for our athletes.”
“The Commonwealth Games Federation has already indicated they are open to the games moving into 2027 to give any potential host more time and that’s something we are looking at in terms of any state or any city we talk to.”
There is yet to be a decision on where to go from here. However, Phillips said it was his intention to present a solution to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) general assembly, which is due to meet in Singapore in November.
Anne Ruston speaks for the rest of Australia when she said, “I would really like to know when you [Commonwealth Games Australia] are going to get a bit of fire in your belly and start getting out there?”