The Australian state of Victoria has announced that it will spend AUD2.6 billion ($1.85 billion) on preparing for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, the hosting rights for which it was awarded last month.
The funding, which was announced yesterday (May 3) as part of Victoria’s broader $5.7-billion 2022 state budget, will be augmented by an additional AUD111 million to support tourism and events.
Victoria had been expected to be named the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games after a breakdown in discussions between the Commonwealth Games Foundation and Hamilton in Canada, which had for a long time been seen as the favorite, saw the Australian state named the preferred bidder in February.
It won the rights with a bid that will make the Victoria 2026 the first Commonwealth Games to be spread across multiple cities, with hubs in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, and Gippsland.
No dates have yet been confirmed for the games, but they are expected to take place in March of that year to avoid an overlap with the Australian Football League season, which traditionally begins after mid-March.
The Victorian government has said that it intends to use existing facilities where possible to minimize costs, but state premier Daniel Andrews has also previously said that the game would be used to “create jobs and housing and infrastructure that will deliver for the long term.”
That has been borne out in the budget, which includes money for housing, new sports infrastructure, and tourism programs and facilities improvement.
Following the games, the athlete villages in each of the four cities will be adapted for use as social and affordable housing, while a process is also being set up via which for local councils, bodies, businesses, and cultural organizations to submit suggestions for spending.
Victoria 2026 is expected to generate over AUD3 billion for the regional economy and create more than 7,500 jobs in total (600 before, 3,900 during, and 3,000 afterward).
Mary-Anne Thomas, minister for regional development, said: “The games will deliver more housing and other legacy infrastructure that will really boost regional and rural Victoria for decades to come.”
Thomas added that she did not expect the figure to be surpassed and that a more detailed breakdown of the funding would be announced in due course.