Australia remain confident of hosting the next Commonwealth Games but concede a 2026 event could slip away as negotiations continue to salvage the multi-sport event.
Any decision on a host and format for the next Games is likely to drift into 2024, Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) chief executive officer Craig Phillips says.
In July, Victoria pulled out of hosting the 2026 edition, citing cost blow-outs, forcing CGA and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to explore other options.
Phillips said “an Australian solution is the priority” amid talks about the Games being staged in multiple cities using existing facilities.
“But at some point, if that bit doesn’t become possible, we have to look at alternatives. We are probably at that stage now,” Phillips told AAP on Tuesday.
“We haven’t given up on Australia yet. We have still got some way to go.
“There is a strong sense that the number one priority solution is an Australian solution, whatever that may look like.”
Commonwealth nations will meet with the CGF in Singapore next month.
“That will be a key test of where we’re sitting at the moment,” Phillips said.
“But I think realistically some of this will go into early next year.
“The conversations have certainly started before that, but in terms of getting into a position where a government or governments are going to be supportive of it happening, it is going to take us a few months.”
That delay casts doubt on holding a 2026 edition, with authorities prepared to postpone the Games by a year.
“An early Games in ’26 would start to become a bit challenging as you start to get into next year, I would think,” Phillips said.
But while a 2027 version would offer “more operational runway”, questions would remain over when a Games could fit in a pre-Olympic year featuring numerous sporting world championships.
“CGF have certainly come out and said they would look at (2027), so I think it is on the cards,” Phillips said.
“But we have to be cautious around how it fits into the international competition program.”
The CGA on Tuesday announced an initial $4.8 million funding allocation to Commonwealth Games sports and athletes, part of a $13 million commitment to 2026 under the Green2Gold2Great program.
“Certainly, we are confident that a host will be found; our investment through the Green2Gold2Great program reflects that,” Phillips said.
“We believe it will be happening somewhere … our preference is that the Games remain in Australia.
“It will be up to the CGF where they end up, so we’re working with them at the moment about what that might look like but nothing firm at this point.”
(Australian Associated Press)