Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has found himself in the hot seat as the Australian sporting community is calling his decision to cancel the 2026 Commonwealth Games “beyond disappointing” and a “let down for athletes”.
The backlash comes after Andrews announced that Victoria would no longer be able to afford to host the Games, saying that $6 to $7 billion is well and truly too much for a 12-day sporting event.
Speaking to A Current Affair, two-time Commonwealth Champion Jane Flemming said Andrews’ announcement made her “embarrassed to be Australian”.
“Having lived, you know, decades in the global sports world, I’m now just shocked and embarrassed to be Australian to tell you the truth,” she said.
Commonwealth Games gold medalist, sprinter John Steffensen, also said he was confused by the announcement.
“It’s really puzzling to me and it’s a big blow to Victoria,” he said, adding that he couldn’t accept the multi billion-dollar cost the Premier was talking about and that he knows “for a fact that they could do it for much less than that”.
“I don’t know where those figures came from,” Steffensen said.
“Those numbers don’t make sense to me and if it’s done properly those numbers are nowhere near correct.”
Seven-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ariarne Titmus has also voiced her disappointment.
“I feel like if you’re going to cement yourself and say you’re going to host a games, try and stick to your word,” Titmus said.
“It’s a tough call to go and take back your decision to hold a Commonwealth Games.”
Australian Commonwealth Games CEO Craig Phillips has also come out saying that Andrews had not given the organisation much say in the decision to cancel the Games.
“The announcement made by the Victoria government today is beyond disappointing for us,” Phillips said.
“It’s a comprehensive let down for the athletes, the excited host communities, First Nation Australians who were going to be at the heart of the games and the millions of fans that would have embraced the sixth home games here in Australia.”
He also argues that hosting the Games wouldn’t cost as much as Andrews’ says it will.
“The stated cost overruns in our opinion are a gross exaggeration and not reflective of the operational costs presented to the Victoria 2026 Organising Committee board as recently as June this year,” he said.
When Andrews’ announced his decision to cancel the games, he argued that the sporting event “does not represent value for money, that is all cost and no benefit”.
“I will not take money out of hospitals and schools in order to fund an event that is three times the cost estimated and budgeted for last year,” Andrews said.
Instead, funding for the Games would be redirected to provide a “massive boost” to regional Victoria.
“First and foremost, each and every one of the permanent sporting facilities that were to be legacy benefits from the Games will be built,” he said.
“There is a very substantial regional tourism fund and a substantial package of support for community-based sport and perhaps most importantly they will be a $1 billion boost for social and affordable housing right across regional Victoria and not just in those hub cities but they will be at least 1300 new homes constructed across regional Victoria.”