The 2026 Commonwealth Games is in doubt after the Australian state of Victoria pulled out of hosting the event due to spiralling costs.

The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said it was not prepared to spend as much as A$6bn (£3bn) on the event after the cost of hosting the project had tripled in cost.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) had struggled to find a host before Victoria volunteered in April 2022. Birmingham had originally been set to host the 2026 Games, but this was brought forward when original 2022 host D​​urban was stripped of the right to stage the 2022 Games due to financial issues.

Andrews said Victoria was “happy to help out” last year when the approached by the CGF, but “not at any price”: “I’ve made a lot of difficult decisions in this job, this is not one of them. It’s just quite obvious, we are not going to spend six to seven billion dollars on a 12-day sporting event. We don’t just make popular decisions, we do what’s right and it would simply be wrong.”

The 2026 Commonwealth Games was set to be the first Games to use a regional model instead of one city, with Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland taking part. The event has been staged in Australia on five previous occasions.

CGF said the estimate of A$6bn is double the figure it was advised of at a board meeting last month, and that the increase in costs was due to the “unique regional delivery model” that Victoria chose for the games.

“We are disappointed that we were only given eight hours’ notice and that no consideration was given to discussing the situation to jointly find solutions,” said GGF in a statement. “Since awarding Victoria the Games, the government has made decisions to include more sports and an additional regional hub, and changed plans for venues, all of which have added considerable expense, often against the advice of the CGF and Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA).”

Potential hosts

The CGF said it is committed to finding a solution after Victoria made the announcement. Scotland and New Zealand have emerged as potential hosts, but there are doubts about the event taking place in 2026.

Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf said he is willing to consider proposals for the nation to host the games for a fourth time, but warned it would come at a cost and that they “certainly couldn’t commit to anything at this stage.”

Ex-Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Paul Bush has suggested the nation could be a joint host for the event: “There are some serious discussions to be had around relevancy, scale and cost,” he said. “This is not time for knee-jerk reactions. The Commonwealth Games is still a strong, viable proposition. I think there is some optimism around 2030 and 2034.”

The Welsh government has ruled out bidding to host the event due to budgetary constraints imposed by the UK government.

The mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand Phil Mauger said, “You know that I’m a fan of doing it in 2034, but now that Victoria has said enough is enough, let’s see if we can jump in there.”