Commmonwealth games runners

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, has announced that Victoria will not be hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to costs expanding far beyond the original estimated $2.6 billion budget for the 12-day sporting event. 

The event – which was to be held in three years’ time throughout regional Victoria – was set to not only provide a huge economic boost for the area’s regional councils, but be the catalyst for much-needed infrastructure construction for these communities. 

In a press conference held in Melbourne at 9:30am on 18 July Mr Andrews said that when the Victorian Government was approached in 2022 to host the Commonwealth Games it was happy to help out, provided that the event delivered lasting benefits to the state. 

“What’s become clear is that the cost of hosting these Games in 2026 is not the $2.6 billion which was budgeted and allocated,” Mr Andrews said. 

Mr Andrews said the true cost was likely to be closer to $6 or $7 billion and the state simply could not afford it.

“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools to host an event that is three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year.

“I’ve made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them. Frankly, $7 billion for a sporting event, we are not doing that.” 

Mr Andrews said that while the Games would not go ahead, the over $2 million already allocated to the event will instead go toward a regional package that includes lasting infrastructure that the Games were set to provide. 

“We will instead deliver all and more of the legacy benefits in housing, sporting infrastructure, tourism,” Mr Andrews said. 

Mr Andrews said the details of these legacy benefits will be unpacked and released from 19 July onward.

“Each and everyone of the sporting facilities that were to be legacy benefits from the games will be built,” Mr Andrews said.

“There is a very substantial regional tourism fund, there will be a substantial package of support for community based sport, and perhaps most importantly there will be a $1 billion dollar boost for social and affordable housing right across regional Victoria, not just in those hub cities, but there will be at least 1300 new homes constructed across regional Victoria.”

When a journalist asked Mr Andrews why the Games couldn’t have been held in Melbourne, rather than cancelled altogether he responded, “We have looked at every conceivable option”. 

“All of them are far in excess of the $2.6 billion that’s been budgeted, so all of them represent more cost than there is benefit, and on that basis none of those options stack up and we’re not going to be hosting the Games in 2026.”

Mr Andrews also said many of Melbourne’s competition-grade facilities were “fairly busy”.

“So we would not be using them, and there is also the small matter of saving money by not building villages.

“But then every hotel room in the city would be taken up by those who are part of the Games, not those who are coming here to watch the Games.

“So again the cost-benefit ratio does not stack up.”

Greater Shepparton Mayor “extremely disappointed” 

Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Shane Sali, said he is extremely disappointed following the announcement that the 2026 Commonwealth Games will not proceed in Victoria. 

Greater Shepparton had been announced to host a suite of cycling events, including both the men’s and women’s road race time trials, as well as the BMX Racing competition, which was set to be a major drawcard for the region.

“Disappointed is an understatement. The Greater Shepparton region had already begun gearing up for the 2026 Commonwealth Games and we were extremely excited to have been announced as one of the five host cities,” Mayor Sali said.

“The regional Victoria model was set to bring thousands of athletes, visitors and spectators to Greater Shepparton and provide a positive boost to the region’s economy, which would last long after the games were over. It was this Commonwealth Games legacy which our region was most excited for, and this is what we will now turn our efforts to.”

Mayor Sali said that the already allocated funds still going toward regional upgrades will help the region attract more state, national and international sporting competitions.

“This funding for upgrades to the Shepparton BMX track is a great result. The Victorian Government also announced our region will share in the $150 million Regional Tourism and Events Fund which will offer new events, attractions and more accommodation in Greater Shepparton,” Mayor Sali said.

“Conversations will now take place in the coming weeks and months, with our expectation for further funding to be allocated towards the Shepparton Sports and Events Stadium upgrade. This upgrade is high on the priority list and a major project which we will continue advocating for.

“We will also continue to push for the Victorian Government’s contribution to Stage One of the Goulburn Valley Highway Shepparton Bypass which is an extremely important piece of infrastructure, not just for our region but for all of regional Victoria.

“We will continue these conversations to ensure Greater Shepparton can get the most out of the $2 billion regional package announced by the State Government.”

Geelong reacts

City of Greater Geelong Mayor, Trent Sullivan, said while the City is disappointed in the announcement, it understands the financial pressures that all levels of government are facing and the difficult decisions that need to be made. 

“Councils entered into this arrangement with the Victorian Government in good faith, and have invested time, resources and funds to help deliver a successful Games,” Mr Sullivan said.  

“This is a very disappointing result, as Geelong and the other regional host cities had been promised a huge amount of tourism, economic, social, and sporting benefits would flow from hosting the Games.

“More than 7500 jobs were expected to be created before, during and after the Games, and more than 1200 goods and services procurement opportunities were also on the agenda. 

“We especially feel for the significant number of Geelong-based government employees who had been working on this event, towards the 2026 deadline.

“The legacy outcomes that the Games were to deliver to the Geelong community were vital in addressing our region’s growing need for social and affordable housing, and our sporting facilities. 

“We welcome the Government’s announcement that this vital infrastructure will still be prioritised, and we’re eagerly awaiting the details of exactly what they will fund and deliver. 

“While disappointed, we will continue to work with the State Government and local MPs to ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved for our community.” 

Ballarat responds

City of Ballarat Mayor, Des Hudson, said that while the decision from the Victorian Government is disappointing, the City is committed to ensuring the State Government delivers on what it has committed to the community and remains optimistic about the legacy items that have been promised.

“We are reassured by the promise of a $2 billion package to be shared across regional Victoria to deliver lasting sporting and housing infrastructure.”

Mayor Hudson said that the City of Ballarat Council will continue to advocate for:

  • A 5,000 seat upgrade at Mars Stadium 
  • The train station upgrade that includes DDA access at Ballarat Station (as costed in the recent State Budget papers at $49.181 million) 
  • Upgrades at Ballarat Sports Events Centre 
  • The Creswick mountain biking project
  • Base infrastructure work at Saleyards site (including removal of King’s caveat, decontamination of the site and delivery of services) 
  • A permanent athletics track in the Major Events Precinct 
  • Sharing in a new $1 billion regional housing fund (mix of social and affordable housing) 

“We look forward to continuing to work with the State Government to ensure they honour the legacy projects that will provide benefits across tourism, sporting infrastructure and social housing.”

To read Council Magazine’s previous coverage of the 2026 Commonwealth games, click here

1 Comment
  1. Michael 11 months ago

    Why doesn’t somebody make Daniel Andrews state the truth that the STATE submitted a EOI for hosting the games not the other way around that he’s inferring.

    Make him accountable to us someone…..please

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