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Why Victoria's failed Games could become an albatross for Brisbane

Olympics

The consequences of cancelling the 2026 Commonwealth Games will linger over the Brisbane Olympics, a top sporting body warns.

 

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On Tuesday, Athletics Australia will front a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the failed 2026 Commonwealth Games bid months after former premier Dan Andrews announced the state would no longer host the major sporting event.

In their submission, the organisation lashes the state government, claiming the cancellation will hurt its athletes and the nation’s reputation and legacy.

“The upheaval this decision has caused for athletics in Victoria and Australia, as well as the Commonwealth Games is immeasurable, with a blatant disregard for the significant logistical, emotional, financial and reputational damage caused,” the submission says.

“None of these impacts will be confined to Victoria. They will carry forward to Brisbane 2032.”

The Commonwealth Games was the only international multi-sport event with able and para-athlete events that would be hosted in Australia before the 2032 Olympics.

In the past, Commonwealth Games close to home have laid the foundation for Australian athletes to break out onto the international stage.

Cathy Freeman, for example, became the first Indigenous Australian to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist at the 1990 event in Auckland, while pole vaulter Steve Hooker took home his first major international gold at the 2006 Melbourne iteration of the event.

With the list of possible Australian host cities beginning to dwindle, Australian kids might lose the chance to watch homegrown heroes take on the giants of other nations, which could have impacts on the next generation of sport stars.

Australia also will not be able to attract elite athletes to domestic competitions and any experience and event planning skills that could be gained from the 2026 event will be lost, Athletics Australia says.

Victoria withdrew from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games after claiming the forecast expenses had nearly doubled and would cost the state between $6 billion to $7 billion.

This made the state the second successive host to renege on its commitment after South African city Durban was stripped of the 2022 hosting rights following financial problems and missed deadlines, which forced the English city of Birmingham to step in.

Though the Gold Coast had thrown its hat into the 2026 hosting ring, mayor Tom Tate ended the city’s $700 million bid after failing to generate support from the state or federal governments.

Representatives from consulting giant EY and the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions will also face the inquiry on Tuesday.

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