The Commonwealth Games Federation is urgently seeking advice on its options following Victoria’s sudden withdrawal as host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee has already said it is not a replacement option.
With three silver and three bronze medals since triathlon was added to the programme in Manchester 2002, Tri NZ has a proud history at the Commonwealth Games. The governing body hopes a replacement host can be found as the Games are an important multi-sports testing ground, in this instance ahead of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol has responded to Tuesday’s shock announcement which comes after a blowout of projected costs.
Victoria has budgeted A$2.6 billion (NZL $2.8 billion) to host the Games, which had been scheduled for March 17-29 in the regional centres of Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton. However, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews puts the cost now as high as A$7b (NZ$7.5b), AP reports.
“Frankly, A$6-A$7 billion 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.”
Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips said the Victoria Government’s decision was a “comprehensive let down”, sentiments echoed by Nicol.
“We are incredibly disappointed to learn that Victoria has withdrawn from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” Nicol said.
“This unexpected announcement is unsettling for New Zealand Team athletes who were working towards a Games close to home in just under three years-time.
“We are looking to the Commonwealth Games Federation as it begins a process to appoint a new host for 2026.”
Victoria’s withdraw is the second time in as many editions there’s been issues with hosting the Commonwealth Games. Birmingham stepped in late to host the 2022 Games in England to replace Durban, South Africa.
New Zealand has hosted the Commonwealth Games three times – in Auckland 1950 when they were known as the British Empire Games, in 1974 in Christchurch and back in Auckland in 1990. The first British Empire Games were staged in 1930 at Hamilton, Canada.
Hamish Carter claimed bronze in Manchester 2002 to start NZL’s Commonwealth Games medal haul. Bevan Docherty went one better with silver in 2006 while Samantha Warriner and Andrea Hansen (then Hewitt) claimed silver and bronze respectively in a memorable Melbourne medal haul.
Hayden Wilde’s controversial silver behind Alex Yee at Birmingham 2022 is the most recent individual medal while the NZL team of Nicole van der Kaay, Ryan Sissons, Andrew Hewitt and Tayler Reid snared bronze in the mixed relay at Gold Coast 2018.