The Victorian Government has announced that the approximately $2 billion allocated to the 2026 Commonwealth Games will instead be used to deliver an improvements package across regional Victoria, after cancelling plans to host the Games in the face of skyrocketing costs.
The event – which was to be held in three years’ time throughout regional Victoria – was set to not only provide a huge economic boost for the area’s regional communities, but be the catalyst for much-needed infrastructure construction for these communities.
In a press conference held in Melbourne at 9:30am on 18 July Mr Andrews said that when the Victorian Government was approached in 2022 to host the Commonwealth Games it was happy to help out, provided that the event delivered lasting benefits to the state.
“What’s become clear is that the cost of hosting these Games in 2026 is not the $2.6 billion which was budgeted and allocated,” Mr Andrews said.
Mr Andrews said the true cost was likely to be closer to $6 or $7 billion and the state simply could not afford it.
“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools to host an event that is three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year.
“I’ve made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them. Frankly, $7 billion for a sporting event, we are not doing that.”
Mr Andrews said that while the Games would not go ahead, the over $2 million already allocated to the event will instead go toward a regional package that includes lasting infrastructure that the Games were set to provide.
“We will instead deliver all and more of the legacy benefits in housing, sporting infrastructure, tourism,” Mr Andrews said.
Mr Andrews said the details of these legacy benefits will be unpacked and released from 19 July onward.
“Each and everyone of the sporting facilities that were to be legacy benefits from the games will be built,” Mr Andrews said.
“There is a very substantial regional tourism fund, there will be a substantial package of support for community based sport, and perhaps most importantly there will be a $1 billion dollar boost for social and affordable housing right across regional Victoria, not just in those hub cities, but there will be at least 1300 new homes constructed across regional Victoria.”
When a journalist asked Mr Andrews why the Games couldn’t have been held in Melbourne, rather than cancelled altogether he responded, “We have looked at every conceivable option”.
“All of them are far in excess of the $2.6 billion that’s been budgeted, so all of them represent more cost than there is benefit, and on that basis none of those options stack up and we’re not going to be hosting the Games in 2026.”
Mr Andrews also said many of Melbourne’s competition-grade facilities were “fairly busy”.
“So we would not be using them, and there is also the small matter of saving money by not building villages.
“But then every hotel room in the city would be taken up by those who are part of the Games, not those who are coming here to watch the Games.
“So again the cost-benefit ratio does not stack up.”