The organizers of the Commonwealth Games have suffered another blow after Malaysia decided not to take up an offer to host the 2026 edition, due to concerns over the cost.  

The decision was taken today by the Malaysian government at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and follows the withdrawal from hosting contention of the Australian state of Victoria last year.

Earlier this month, the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) organizing body claimed that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) offered the Asian country the chance to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games and could provide financial aid to facilitate it.

Up to $125 million was reportedly offered to the Malaysian Commonwealth Games Association (CGA) to support the quadrennial event to aid “the local delivery and legacy planning” of the games.

However, the Malaysian government said the offer was “not expected to be able to cover the entire cost of organizing a large-scale sports event.”

Minister Hannah Yeoh added in a statement: “The Ministry of Youth and Sports today announced the government's decision not to accept an offer from the Commonwealth Games Federation to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

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“The government wants to focus on the development of sports as well as the welfare and well-being of the people.”

The CGF recently praised Malaysia for having “a fantastic track record of delivering sporting events”, having staged the games in 1998.

But the organization also claimed it is in “advanced discussions” with several potential hosts.

Singapore recently said it was “assessing the feasibility” of a proposal from the CGF.

The opportunity to host the Commonwealth Games divided opinions in Malaysia, with Mohamad Norza Zakaria, president of the CGA, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that could put Malaysia back on the sporting map.

However, Khairy Jamaluddin, a former youth and sports minister, blasted the idea and called it “reckless” with little time for planning.

He suggested any host would need at least four years to upgrade venues, plan sponsorship, and set up infrastructure.

The £100 million offer from the CGF hinted at its desperation to find a new host for the event on such short notice, and Malaysia’s refusal now brings added uncertainty over the future of the games.

The Australian state of Victoria was originally set to host the event but withdrew in July 2023 owing to a huge increase in the projected cost of staging the games – originally projected to hit A$2.6 billion ($1.7 billion), the original cost then rose to an untenable A$6 billion.

Queensland, another Australian state, withdrew its own bid to host the games soon after with Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate citing the costs, differences in vision, and the city of Brisbane’s hosting of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games as reasons why it pulled out.

On top of the two Australian states pulling out, Alberta, Canada, also withdrew its bid, leaving the CGF faced with the possibility of postponement, or potentially a first cancellation since just after World War II.

The originally scheduled host for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, South Africa's Durban, also had to pull out for cost reasons, leaving Birmingham, England, to agree to act as a last-minute replacement.