Australia "increasingly unlikely" to host 2026 Commonwealth Games as Gold Coast withdraws

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GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Australia is unlikely to be able to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games and sports officials have called on the international federation to consider bids from other countries.

Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips made the comments Monday after Gold Coast confirmed it had scrapped its plans to pick up the games after Victoria state withdrew as host in July.

Phillips said while Australia hasn’t entirely given up on hosting, the Commonwealth Games Federation should “seriously consider” other offers.

“We have indicated to (the CGF)... they would have our support in doing that,” Phillips told the Australian Associated Press. “It’s our preference to host here and we will keep going while we think we have got options to explore.

“But if they have a better option, then they should seriously consider it.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate announced Sunday that the city had scrapped its bid to host the Games after failing to secure support from state or federal governments. Gold Coast, which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and Perth had proposed a “streamlined” 2026 event, costing about $700 million.

“We did our best,” Tate said in a statement. “Sadly, at the same time, our country’s reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains.

“In simple terms, it seems our Games’ vision doesn’t align with the vision of the state or federal governments.”

Gold Coast said the 2026 Games would not have been a burden on ratepayers.

Victoria originally was awarded the 2026 Commonwealth Games but withdrew earlier this year citing cost overruns.

Three locations outside Australia reportedly have expressed interest in hosting the Games, which now are likely to be postponed to early 2027.

“The people we spoke to in the Commonwealth Games family, I believe that the sentiment is very much still ... there is a solution here in Australia,” Phillips said. “But if that doesn’t materialize, then other options are certainly on the table.

“We have made it clear to the CGF that we feel an obligation to host, we would like to host. But if they come up with a better solution for themselves then ultimately so be it."

The Commonwealth Games are a multi-sports event which began in 1930 as the British Empire Games and are contested every four years by athletes from the countries and territories in the Commonwealth.

The last games were hosted in 2022 by Birmingham, which stepped in when Durban, South Africa was unable to meet financial and organizational requirements.

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AP Asia sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports-asia