Games Only Ever Canceled During WWII Are Now in Doubt

Victoria backs out as host for the 2026 games
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2023 4:53 PM CDT
Games Only Ever Canceled During WWII Are Now in Doubt
The Commonwealth Games Federation flag is carried into the arena during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Melbourne, Australia on March 15, 2006.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

Since 1930, the Commonwealth Games have run every four years with two exceptions: 1942 and 1946, when they were canceled due to WWII. Now, the 2026 Games are looking shaky after the Australian state of Victoria reneged on its offer to host—raising questions about the "relevance" of an event that began as the British Empire Games, reports the New York Times. The 12-day Games are made up of athletes from the Commonwealth's 56 members, and amidst a dearth of offers to host, Victoria agreed to take on the role last April. But on Tuesday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that offer to help couldn't come "at any price," and that with the projected hosting cost of $1.8 billion having ballooned to more than $4 billion, it was backing out.

"I've made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them," Andrews said at a press conference. The BBC reports the remaining Australian states, New Zealand, and Wales said on Tuesday that they would not serve as a fill-in. The Commonwealth Games Federation sounded peeved, calling the decision a "hugely disappointing" one that it was blindsided by. "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," it said in a statement. The CGF also blamed the Victorian government for making decisions that it says ran counter to its recommendations, thereby upping the price tag.

In a piece for the Guardian, Kieran Pender writes the "multi-location regional" approach Victoria had set out to stage "promised to be an exciting proposition: a smaller, more nimble Games, taking elite sport to regional hubs, rather than building more white elephant stadiums on the outskirts of big cities." It's possible Victoria could have "paved the way for a sustainable, refreshed future for the Commonwealth Games—and a point of difference from the Olympic behemoth." Instead, Victoria has created "an existential challenge to the Games." (More Commonwealth Games stories.)

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