Gold Coast is the second Australian city to withdraw from the race to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games after the Australian state of Victoria unexpectedly stepped back in July of this year, citing an exorbitant cost increase.
Gold Coast, a coastal city with around 600,000 inhabitants in Queensland, offered to step in, but only if the federal government helped cover the expenses, an idea that did not impress officials. However, last Sunday, Mayor Tom Tate announced that his attempt to save the Games had come to an end. "We did our best, and that's all people can expect," he said in a statement to the Australian media. "Unfortunately, at the same time, our country's reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains in tatters," he added.
Commonwealth Games officials said last month that they were working under tight deadlines to find a replacement and would prefer to keep the event in Australia. Katie Sadleir, head of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said at the time that there was a possibility the delay could push the Games to 2027.
This situation could provide an opportunity for resolution, as with longer timelines, everything could be facilitated. The federation, in turn, has previously expressed "great disappointment" at Victoria's surprising decision to withdraw, as stated in statements to AFP. "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 prior to this decision being reached by the government in July," organizers said.
With this situation, the organization faces increasing challenges to maintain its relevance, and with fewer countries interested in hosting the event, the long-term fate of the Games remains uncertain. The province of Alberta in Canada withdrew its support for a possible bid to host the 2030 edition weeks after Victoria's announcement.
The event typically attracts more than 4,000 athletes from the 54 countries of the Commonwealth, almost all of which are former territories of the British Empire. The last Games, in 2022, were held in England after Birmingham decided to step in at the last minute.