Sport | Commonwealth Games

Where to for Commonwealth Games 2026?

The Aussie state of Victoria pulls out, leaving three years to find another host.

Doubt is now clouding the future of the 2026 Commonwealth Games after the Australian host state of Victoria pulled out unexpectedly earlier this week.

Though excited and wanting to do everything to make it a reality, Victoria Premier Dan Andrews confirmed the bad news due to budget blowouts earlier this week, with expected price tags to exceed NZ$6.5 billion.

The multi-sport event, similar to the Olympics, has only ever been cancelled once before, during World War II.

The question arises: Where to for the Commonwealth Games in three years’ time?

NZ Olympic committee chair Diana Puketapu (Ngāti Porou) is already ruling out having New Zealand as host for 2026, and the bid to host the 2034 edition still stands and remains their focus with Victoria’s withdrawal being used as a lesson.

“Our intention is still to go ahead with the feasibility study to determine the economic impact of delivering a games that delivers social, cultural and inspirational impacts and benefits that we would want for Aotearoa and the Commonwealth,” she says.

Too late for 2026 hosting

“There are some lessons that we, in due course, will take from Victoria’s cancellation. but our intention is to go ahead with that feasibility study.”

Even if there were to be a collaboration with another host city or country for 2026 to make it easier, much like New Zealand and Australia’s co-hosting of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, three years is not enough time.

“The reality is no. New Zealand is not ready to host 2026, and it’s certainly not the way we would want to host it.”

Puketapu is confident the Commonwealth Games Federation will find a solution for 2026, and even if the hosts end up being further away for New Zealanders to travel to, she wants athletes to not be discouraged as they were by Covid.

“It’s always exciting when you can hop across the ditch and deliver almost home games.

“We just have to redirect, and athletes are used to this... I’m sure there was disappointment from a number [of athletes].”

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