Is It Time To Say Goodbye To The Unwanted Commonwealth Games?

Victoria has pulled out of hosting the games in 2026
17:01, 18 Jul 2023

The Australian state of Victoria will no longer host the Commonwealth Games in 2026 after their Premier, Daniel Edwards, confirmed the estimated costs had risen too high. Their initial budget to host the Games was £1.4bn, but that has now risen to £3.7bn, a cost that is restrictive to say the least in the current economic climate. 

"Today is not about finding fault with those cost estimates," he said. “Frankly, 6-7 billion Australian dollars for a 12-day sporting event, we are not doing that - that does not represent value for money, that is all costs and no benefit."

The Games had been scheduled to begin on March 17, 2026 in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton in regional Victoria. Instead the money will be put into local housing, sports centres and hospitals, which seems like a more sensible use of the funds. But where does this leave the Commonwealth Games and is there even a future for it?


At one stage in the past, what began as the British Empire Games in 1930 was an utter joy to host. It was almost like a mini-Olympics, as countries desperately bid to be given the right to host the games. In recent times, the Commonwealth countries have looked like uninterested schoolchildren, standing with their hands in their pockets and eyes on the floor as their teacher asks them a tricky question. 

The question in this instance is “Do you want to spend a tonne of money on an event that won’t even feature the best athletes in the world?” And the answer has been a resounding no. When Durban was stripped of the games having missed deadlines and financial payments, only England stepped up to host in 2022, putting Birmingham forward as the only option from all of the nations. Given it is a British invention, that felt like a necessity and it won’t be repeated again. Which leaves us in a sticky situation for 2026. It’s not as though there are a whole host of cities jumping at the chance to host the event, and if they do, it will come at a hefty financial cost. 


The arguments against the Games are stacking up. According to, “The Commonwealth is an association of sovereign nations which support each other and work together towards international goals. It is also a ‘family’ of peoples.”

For other, more critical historians, it’s a stain left by Great Britain’s war-mongering past, in which it invaded or had some control over the 56 member states. In the United Kingdom’s history it has fought conflicts in 171 of the world's 193 countries, and its colonisation of a hefty chunk of the planet doesn’t feel like something to be celebrated. 

Then we come to the sporting merit. For Athletics, the Commonwealth Games ranks below the Olympics and the World Athletics Championships, while the European Championships and Diamond League continues to garner interest on the continent. This hierarchy of importance was seen in Birmingham last year as several of GB’s top names pulled out. 

Dina Asher-Smith didn’t compete after picking up a minor injury in Oregon while Max Whitlock and Tom Daley prioritised other events. It feels as though, in 2023, the Commonwealth Games is a pointless competition with very little relevance or importance to the modern world. You’d have to be bonkers to host this relic of the past. 

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