Singapore latest to reject Commonwealth Games as 2026 host options running out for CGF

With few options available, the Commonwealth Games will struggle to make it to its centennial edition in 2030

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony (Photo: Birmingham 2022)
Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony (Photo: Birmingham 2022)

Hopes to stage the 2026 Commonwealth Games as planned are fading quickly after Singapore became the latest nation to turn down a £100 million (USD $126 million) investment to help organize the event.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has offered the investment to any Commonwealth nation that agrees to host the next scheduled quadrennial edition that would have to be prepared with just over two years notice.

Commonwealth Games Singapore and Sport Singapore said in a statement Wednesday that they had “studied the feasibility” and “decided not to make any bid.”

Previously Singapore officials were doubtful that a bid would move forward, citing the high costs and short timing, according to The Straits Times.

This latest blow to the CGF come only two weeks after Malaysia rejected the same offer to host the Games for a second time in Kuala Lumpur.

Victoria in Australia was initially awarded the 2026 Games almost two years ago when its unopposed bid was approved by the CGF. But things unraveled quickly last year when the state premier suggested costs were skyrocketing, more than doubling from initial estimates of AUD $2.6 billion (USD $1.76 million), and he canceled plans to move forward despite a costly cancelation penalty of AUS $380 million (USD $244 million).

The CGF has leveraged this penalty to fund the investment incentive for new potential hosts, but interest has been minimal.

Other regions in Australia have balked at calls to step in, and other nations have expressed interest in a future Games but are not prepared to hurry up a plan for 2026.

Alberta in Canada had plans to stage the event in 2030 but those were called off by the provincial government over cost concerns.

The root of the Commonwealth Games downward spiral can be traced back to 2015 when Edmonton in Canada dropped out of the race to host its second edition in 2022 due to an economic downturn caused by a drop in worldwide oil prices. Less than capable Durban in South Africa was then elected as the only remaining candidate and would have been the first-ever African host had it not missed important financial milestones. Instead in 2017 Durban was stripped of the Games due to contract violations.

Birmingham, England  – already in the race to host the 2026 edition – was elected as a replacement for the 2022 Games when no other projects emerged.

Hamilton had been organizing a bid to host the 2030 centennial edition of the Games in its birthplace but the CGF offered the Canadian city an exclusive opportunity to bid for 2026 instead to fill the newly created gap. The bid eventually failed when the Ontario provincial government refused to fund the Games in the same year nearby Toronto was scheduled to host matches in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The CGF has claimed they are working with multiple interested parties, but no serious contenders have emerged.

Last week AFP reported the CGF remains optimistic that the Games can continue within a modified framework.

“The process to determine a host for the 2026 Games is continuing at pace with interested Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs),” CGF CEO Katie Sadleir told AFP.

“While acutely aware of the incredibly tight timeframe, we have encouraged proposals that will reset the Games.

“Alongside this process, we have accelerated work to refresh and reframe the Games.

“This has included exploring innovative new concepts and event opportunities.”

Previously CGF officials have suggested delaying the Games until 2027 to buy more time, or holding a series of championships in multiple Commonwealth nations to preserve the event.

Otherwise the Commonwealth Games may not make it to its 100th birthday in 2030.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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