No UK rescue for 2026 Commonwealth Games after Gold Coast withdrawal | Commonwealth Games

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The British government has told Commonwealth Games organisers that the United Kingdom will not step in to rescue the event again after the Gold Coast withdrew its bid for the 2026 event.

Substantial UK government support allowed Birmingham to ride to the rescue of the 2022 Games after Durban was stripped of the event in 2017. However, multiple sources have told the Guardian that there is no financial appetite – or any preliminary planning in place – to allow another British city to intervene again. “For the good of the Games, it needs to go elsewhere,” one insider said.

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With Victoria also having pulled out of hosting the 2026 Games this year, and no obvious other candidates waiting in the wings, there are fears that the Commonwealth Games is facing a looming existential threat.

However a Commonwealth Games Federation spokesperson urged patience while the hunt for a new host resumed. “Since the sudden withdrawal of Victoria in July 2023 as host of the 2026 Games, the Commonwealth Games Federation has been working tirelessly with Commonwealth Games Associations to find a new host who would be able to step in at such short notice,” she said. “We are in active conversations with a number of potential hosts across the Commonwealth and hope to provide an update on those discussions in early 2024.”

The Guardian has been told that there have been “confidential preliminary discussions” across four regions about hosting the Games in 2026 and that the CGF has privately set itself a deadline of the summer at the latest to find a host.

Earlier the Gold Coast’s withdrawal was confirmed by its mayor Tom Tate, after he admitted it had not received enough support from the state or federal governments. “We did our best,” he said. “Sadly, at the same time, our country’s reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains. In simple terms, it seems our Games’ vision doesn’t align with the vision of the state or federal governments.”

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate
Mayor Tom Tate blames a lack of support from state and federal government for the Gold Coast’s withdrawal. Photograph: Dan Peled/AAP

The announcement came after the Australian state of Victoria announced in July that it was pulling out of hosting the 2026 Games due to the cost of the event breaching estimates by around A$5bn (£2.6bn). Daniel Andrews, the state premier at the time, told media in Melbourne that he was not prepared to spend up to A$7bn (£3.6bn) on a “12-day sporting event”.

The state ultimately agreed to pay £190m to the Commonwealth Games Federation, Commonwealth Games Federation Partnerships and Commonwealth Games Australia for its decision.

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On Monday the Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive, Craig Phillips, urged the CGF to consider other offers from other countries for hosting the multisport event in 2026. “We have indicated to [the CGF] … they would have our support in doing that,” he said.

“It’s our preference to host here and we will keep going while we think we have got options to explore. Three other nations have expressed interest in hosting the Games, but if that happens they might be postponed from 2026 to early 2027.”

Asked whether he thought the 2026 Games would probably take place outside Australia, Phillips said: “I think so.”

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