Queensland's Gold Coast has pulled its bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games after it failed to generate state or federal government support, becoming the second Australian state to decide against staging the event.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate confirmed today that the city has scrapped its AU$700 million ($465 million) plan to host the 2026 edition, five months after state government Victoria announced it would no longer stage the games due to dramatically increased costs.
In a statement, Tate said: “We did our best and that’s all people can expect. Sadly, at the same time, our country’s reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains in tatters.
“In simple terms, it seems our [Commonwealth] Games’ vision doesn’t align with the vision of the state or federal governments.”
He added he would write to Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Chris Jenkins to advise him of the decision.
Responding to the decision, Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips said the organization is working to find an alternative solution for athletes, adding: “Mayor Tate is an enthusiastic advocate for the Commonwealth because he knows how they can transform a city when delivered well.
“But we understand the need of the Queensland government to focus their efforts on the enormous opportunity that is Brisbane 2032.”
Brisbane is set to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032 after the International Olympic Committee rubber-stamped its decision in July 2021.
Organizers of the Commonwealth Games' next edition have said they may have to postpone the event if an appropriate host is not found.
The CGF had struggled to find a host for the 2026 games, while the only bid for the 2030 edition – the Canadian province of Alberta – pulled out of the race. The lack of interest has been blamed on skyrocketing costs, as well as public interest in the event falling.
The multi-sport event involves thousands of athletes representing 72 Commonwealth countries and territories and is held every four years. The last edition in 2022 was hosted by the English city Birmingham, which stepped in to replace Durban, South Africa, which faced financial issues.
Victoria was announced as host of the 2026 edition last March after organizers had struggled to find an appropriate location due to a lack of interest and Covid-19 disruptions. It was due to be held between March 17 and 26 in the regional centers of Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland, and Shepparton.
The Victoria state previously hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the last edition of the games staged in Australia was on the Gold Coast, Queensland in 2018.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrew announced the state’s decision to walk away from hosting duties last month after new estimates suggested the cost had ballooned to AU$7 billion rather than the AU$2.7 billion originally projected.
A newly released costing document estimated excess costs of around AU$2 billion, due to compressed timelines, supply constraints, accommodation shortfalls, and major sports code displacement costs.
Requirements by CGF for athletes’ villages alone saw the accommodation increase from an estimated AU$200 million to over AU$1 billion. Transport costs swelled from AU$110 million to over AU$300 million, while security estimates surged from $200 million to $500 million.
Victoria’s state government eventually agreed to pay AU$380 million to the CGF in compensation for pulling out.
Read more: Deal focus: Commonwealth Games suffers hosting blow as Alberta pulls bid