Tasmania steps up to challenge Victoria with 2026 Commonwealth Games bid

The Australian state of Tasmania has emerged with plans to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, countering work already rumored underway by Victoria for a Melbourne centered project.

Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony
Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony (Photo: Melbourne 2006)

Tasmania’s Sport Minister Jane Howlett said Thursday her state is ready to move forward with plans that would feature Hobart and Launceston as hosts.

“Our government is committed to delivering more elite sporting content for Tasmanians to enjoy,” the sport minister announced in a statement.

“And, importantly, provide pathways for local sports men, women and children.

“We are confident that we can work collaboratively with Commonwealth Games Australia on the opportunities Tasmania presents as either a host or co-host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games.”

Premier Peter Gutwein formally requested that Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) CEO Craig Phillips consider Tasmania for the bid.

Last month it was reported that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) had initiated talks with Victoria sport officials in a targeted move to site the 2026 event after the process fell three years behind schedule.  Starting a series of unfortunate events for the CGF, Durban in South Africa was stripped of the 2022 Games after missing financial milestones and Birmingham was pulled away from a 2026 bid and instead elected replacement host for 2022.

In 2020 the CGF approached Hamilton in Canada with an exclusive opportunity to host the 2026 event but government officials in Ontario declined the offer and will instead bid for 2030, the 100th anniversary of the Games that were born in that same city.

Melbourne hosted the 2006 edition of the Games and it appears the CGF wants to leverage the existing experience and facilities that will be needed to prepare in the abbreviated timeframe.  Plans are moving forward quickly and an announcement is expected in the coming weeks.  The CGF has said it hopes to name the host ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Games set to open in July.

Howlett is aware of Victoria’s plans, and the sudden interest could be a call to participate in the existing project.

“We are confident that we can work collaboratively with Commonwealth Games Australia on the opportunities Tasmania presents as either a host or co-host,” Howlett said of her interest to possibly join Victoria.

Otherwise, Tasmania doesn’t stack up well against Victoria.

“This is a pointless plan with absolutely no ability to deliver, and any money spent on a bid would be money wasted,” opposition Member of Parliament Shane Broad said to local reporters.

“Premier Peter Gutwein, in writing to the Commonwealth Games CEO, has not even thought through the most basic details like where would we accommodate thousands of athletes and spectators?

“Where could he possibly hold an opening and closing ceremony of any size?”

Blundstone Arena in Hobart can accommodate 19,500 spectators while the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston has a capacity of 20,000.

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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