Commonwealth Games in tatters as second city walks away

The Commonwealth Games is in free fall again after it was confirmed that Canada had pulled out of a bid to host the 2030 Games.

The Games were last month dealt a hammer blow when Victoria sensationally pulled the pin as hosts of the 2026 event following claims of an operating costs blow out from $2.6 billion towards $7 billion.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Katie Sadleir was adamant last month that the 2026 Games will go ahead, but all bets are now off with the outdated colonial concept suddenly on the brink of disaster.

The Games currently have no future events planned and no host city.

London and a multi-city Scottish bid for the 2026 Games have received public support. Christchurch, in New Zealand, has also shown interest.

However, there appears to have been no momentum in the three weeks that have followed Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to rip up its contract with the Federation.

The 2030 host rights were being explored by the Alberta province in Canada with the event to be staged across the cities of Calgary and Edmonton.

Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC) has issued a statement in which it blamed Victoria for the Government of Alberta’s decision to immediately cancel the feasibility study that was being undertaken to assess the impact of hosting the Games in 2030.

“Commonwealth Sport Canada has been informed by the Alberta government that they have decided to discontinue the exploration of a 2030 Commonwealth Games Bid,” the CSC said.

“We believe the recent decision by the Victorian government to withdraw from the 2026 Commonwealth Games was a significant factor in Alberta’s decision, as well as an over-dependence on taxpayer’s support for the planning and delivery of the Games.

“Commonwealth Sport Canada is profoundly disappointed in Alberta Government’s decision but respects their right to make this decision.”

The Victorian bid to host the 2026 games across five regional hubs, had been the sole bidding city for the event. Durban in South Africa had also been the only city bidding for the 2022 Games before the South African city also walked away.

Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips was also scathing of the Victorian Government’s behaviour in damaging the Games, making several damning claims.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) continues to considering legal action against the state, having been left at the altar. Victoria pulled the plu after first winning the rights for the 2026 event in April, 2022.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe this week said the Commonwealth Games is a strong enough brand to survive its latest crisis, but that suddenly appears in jeopardy.

Australian sports historian Matthew Klugman said last month Victoria’s decision could be the concept’s “death knell”.

The doom and gloom comes despite very successful Games recently held in Birmingham last year and the Gold Coast in 2018.

Coe says he sees a future for the event which typically attracts more than 4,000 athletes from the 54 nations of the Commonwealth, almost all of them former territories of the British Empire.

“The Commonwealth Games will survive this, it’s a strong product, it is about innovating and the Commonwealth Games has opportunity to do that,” he told The Australian this week.

“It has less branding (restrictions) than the Olympics and sometimes the World Championships, so it has potential.

“I don’t see the Commonwealth Games disappearing, it has a problem at the moment, and I am hoping others are prepared to step in.” Coe, a former middle-distance world record holder, said the event remained a vital stepping stone for the Olympics, particularly track and field.

“The Commonwealth Games track and field is a strong event: to win a sprint you have to beat Jamaicans; in endurance you have to beat the Kenyans and there are very strong powerful nations there,” he said.

“Just under a quarter of those nations in world athletics are Commonwealth nations. It is important for track and field that the Commonwealth Games is seen as successful.”

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