The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is prepared to postpone the 2026 Commonwealth Games until the following year, according to a report from Inside The Games, following Victoria, Australia’s surprising withdrawal as host.
In July, Victoria withdrew as host of the Games for financial reasons after winning the bid in April 2022. The Australian state’s Premier Daniel Andrews said current cost estimates were roughly $7 billion AUD ($4.8 billion USD) after initial projections were $2.6 billion AUD ($1.8 billion USD).
Now, the CGF is left scrambling to find a host with less than three years before the 2026 Games are scheduled to get underway, with March 17-29, 2026 the initial dates for the event in Victoria.
CGF chief executive Katie Sadleir told Inside The Games that the federation is willing to postpone the event and maybe even shift the format in some way to accommodate the new host.
“An Australian Games was early in 2026, whether that means we need to give a potential host a bit more time to move that by 12 months, we’re open to that because clearly it is not a long time away,” Sadlier said, according to Inside The Games.
“But whether it is a traditional Games like you saw in Birmingham or something that’s a little bit different and a bit special, it’s probably too early for me to say.
“What we are doing is evaluating all options, and we will have something in place.”
Cities in Great Britain and Australia are reportedly the most likely replacements, but there are currently no firm bids in place.
The host of the 2018 Games, Queensland (AUS) was suggested as a possible host but that was shot down by Queensland Sports Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe.
The host of last year’s edition, Birmingham, England, has been proposed as a possible landing spot, though West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said it was “far too early” to talk about Birmingham stepping in last month.
According to the BBC, there have been calls for Birmingham to take over as permanent hosts of the quadrennial event.
Sadlier said the situation will be fully addressed at the CGF General Assembly in Singapore in November, where a new President will be named as Scotland’s Dame Louise Martin ends her max-term after initially being elected in 2015.
CGF Vice President Kereyn Smith, one of the presidential candidates, added that the federation is confident they’ll find a host and successfully stage the Games.
“We’re certainly very optimistic because the product is good,” Smith said, according to Inside The Games. “The Games Value Framework, research that’s been going on over a long period of time looking at cities and hosts’ investment versus their return, is a compelling, positive story.
“It might not take place in exactly the same window of time, the southern hemisphere is usually a bit earlier anyway, but those things it’s too early to tell at the moment.
“I think we’re confident we’ll definitely be staging a Games in that 2026, 2027 window.”
Unlike the Olympics, which were postponed by one year from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth Games has never been postponed and has been held every four years since the inaugural edition in 1930, other than in 1942 and 1946 when they were canceled due to World War II.
At the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Australia topped the overall medal table with 67 gold and 179 total medals, while the Aussies also led the swimming table with 25 gold and 65 medals (including para swimming).