The Australian state government of Victoria says it has entered into "exclusive negotiations" with the Commonwealth Games Federation to host the 2026 version of the games in regional centers in the state. The Commonwealth Games are held every four years involving 70-plus countries from the British Commonwealth of nations.
It was scheduled to be held in Durban this year, but Birmingham, England stepped in when financial constraints meant the South African city had to pull out of its hosting plans. If Victoria gets approval for 2026 it would be the second time in eight years that Australia hosted the games after the Gold Coast in Queensland held them in 2018.
Melbourne hosted the games in 2006 while other Australian editions inclouded those in Sydney (1938), Perth (1962) and Brisbane (1982). Commonwealth Games Australia's chief executive officer Craig Phillips says Victoria's bid will be submitted to the CGF in mid-March with official approval likely in April. There have been no suggested dates for the games in 2026, although the Gold Coast event in subtropical Queensland was held in April 2018 — the middle of autumn in Australia.
The Melbourne games in 2006 were held in March. Phillips said regional facilities included housing and sports venues would be upgraded or built for the 2026 event and Australia's sixth hosting of the games. "One of our strategic pillars for our organization is hosting great games," Phillips said. "We know how important it is at one level, for our athletes and member sports, that we bring the games back to Australia on a regular basis."
"And right now '26 becomes important in a broader context because of the runway to Brisbane in 2032," he said, referring to Brisbane's hosting of the Summer Olympics in 2032. Australian Olympic Committee chief executive officer Matt Carroll said he welcomed the announcement. "This is a wonderful opportunity for sport in Australia," Carroll said. "With Brisbane hosting the 2032 Olympic Games, we now have a second major home Games in prospect.
The Olympic and Commonwealth Games share so many member sports." Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews said the deal was only finalized on Tuesday night and would be primarily an event hosted by cities and towns in regional Victoria. "These will be games like no others and that will be great for regional Victoria, great for the state, for jobs, for investments, for confidence," he said.
Andrews said some regional locations such as Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo would be "self-starters" that already had the necessary facilities to host events. All are located several hours outside of the capital of Melbourne. The Birmingham Commonwealth Games this year are scheduled for July 28-Aug. 8.