Decision to cancel 2026 Commonwealth Games in Australia based on "overstated" cost estimates

MELBOURNE, Australia — An inquiry into the Australian state of Victoria’s decision to cancel its planned hosting of the 2026 Commonwealth Games said it cost the state 589 million Australian dollars ($385 million) and the price estimate that resulted in it being shelved was “overstated and not transparent.”

Victoria’s Auditor-General’s Office on Wednesday said agencies failed to work together to give “frank, full and timely advice” to the government before it decided to host the games.

“The total cost of the games to Victorians is over $589 million,” the office said in a report. “This waste would have been avoided.”

In 2022 the Labor government led by then-Premier Daniel Andrews agreed to host the 2026 Games in regional cities in Victoria at an expected cost of about A$2.6 billion ($1.7 billion). But it pulled out in July 2023 after saying the figure had blown out to A$6.9 billion ($4.5 billion), and instead had to compensate the Commonwealth Games Federation for breaking the contract.

Craig Phillips, CEO of Commonwealth Games Australia, was even more critical in a statement following the release of the inquiry findings.

The report “confirms the gross exaggeration of costs detailed by the then premier when he made the decision to cancel the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” Phillips said.

“While the initial budget was unrealistically low, the updated figure was overblown by ignoring and effectively double-counting a $1 billion contingency fund for industrial action and cost blowouts.”

Despite media reports that other countries — or even other states in Australia — were interested in picking up hosting of the 2026 event — the multi-sports games which include countries of the former British Commonwealth and held every four years remain in limbo.


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