The 2026 Commonwealth Games are currently without a host. The Australian state of Victoria was the original host of the games but pulled out in July 2023 due to the rising costs. The organizers recently offered Malaysia the opportunity to stage the multi-sport event and $126 million (£100 million) to help cover the costs.

However, one month later, the country rejected the offer. It is worth mentioning that this financial support is available to any prospective host. To add to the uncertainty of the event in general, Alberta in Canada withdrew its support for a bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games.

The games are typically contested by around 70 countries and territories of the former British Empire and medal tables in recent editions have been heavily dominated by Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, South Africa, and India.

Australia has hosted the event five times (1938, 1962, 1982, 2006, and 2018). Its withdrawal had already raised doubts over the future of the event and questioned whether a games of colonial origins was still relevant in the modern era.

If Australia, one of the most successful countries, is not willing to host the next edition, this may show the lack of ‘importance’ the Commonwealth Games now holds.

The Commonwealth Games has always had to fight for attention in a crowded international sporting calendar, with huge competition for investment, commercial partners, and fans. The games almost entirely rely on government funding.

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Therefore, it takes significant financial commitment for a nation to host the games. In a time where the cost of hosting major sporting events is escalating, together with a challenging global macroeconomic environment, finding a host is becoming challenging.

The previous Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham in 2022, attracted more money to the city than it cost to host the event, an obvious benefit of hosting the games. However, with Victoria withdrawing, Singapore had little time to assess the potential impact hosting the game could have.

With this being said, the games initially meant to be held in Victoria were already labeled as not representing value for money. The next host city, if there is to be one, would have to view it as a catalyst to support holistic growth rather than focusing on the short-term tourism uplift.

The issue of finding a host for the games goes beyond the 2026 edition. Five of the last six have been held in Australia or Britain. This alludes to the fact that without Britain or Australia, no countries are willing to host the Commonwealth Games. For countries like Singapore, it is a far higher financial commitment due to not already having the sporting infrastructure and never hosting an Olympic Games.

Victoria hosted the Olympics back in 1956, therefore the state planned to hold the events in rural and coastal areas of the state, which was not in tune with the model adopted by the Olympics.

This was also causing a huge amount of investment into hosting the 2026 edition, which tripled to as much as $4.8 billion from the $1.7 billion that was initially projected. Since 1990, every Olympic event has exceeded its budget by an average of 172% – being a host country doesn’t come cheap.

Hosting a major sporting event does have its benefits, which as alluded to, have been shown to outweigh the investment into hosting the games. The Commonwealth Games attracts a global audience and provides the host nation with significant opportunities to develop infrastructure and job opportunities, for example, which Birmingham experienced after hosting in 2022.

Hosting the games provided the West Midlands with new sports venues and improved transport services. But if countries are not willing to host, they will not reap the benefits of staging a major sporting event.

With the Commonwealth Games’ future uncertain, questions are being asked whether this is the beginning of the end of the competition.

The Commonwealth Games does not hold the same status that the Olympics does, mainly because the top sporting nations such as the US and China are not included. Unfortunately, at a sporting level, this does offer inconsistency.

However, some sports, like Netball, are unaffected by this with Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand dominating the world rankings.

The loss of the global powerhouses in attendance at the Commonwealth Games provides opportunities for smaller nations to experience success which they are not likely to do at major global events like the Olympics.

Additionally, for some countries, like Wales, funding for some sports is very much based on their achievements at the Commonwealth Games. Therefore, without the event, where that leaves funding for sports in countries where the Commonwealth Games is the highest level of competition is a concern.

For some athletes, the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of their career and a big motivation in the years before to peak at the right time. As Scottish Athletics has expressed, there is a lot of pride for their athletes in representing their country at the Commonwealth Games. These athletes don’t want this to be the end of the games.

A possible avenue is stripping back the 2026 Commonwealth Games and changing the format, with it possibly being changed to several, smaller competitions, which was recently proposed by Glasgow.

Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) has proposed for the city, which hosted the games in 2014, to stage a “scaled-back” edition of the multi-sport event as a backup option if CGF does not find a host.

CGS’ plan for the games would be projected to cost between £130 million-£150 million, and a reduced 11-day program of 10-13 sporting events staged at existing sports facilities in the city.

In truth, the games need to be stripped back. In recent years, the likes of women’s cricket were added but with the lack of interest from countries to host the games, the only option may be to cut down the event and only include athletics and swimming.

The likely outcome is that the 2026 Commonwealth Games will be postponed, even if a host is found. However, whether the event still has a place in the modern era is looking increasingly doubtful.

With no host, a lack of perceived priority, and an ever-challenging global economic climate, the 2022 Commonwealth Games may have been the last of its kind.