The key questions answered as the Commonwealth Games suffers latest setback

By Sports Desk August 04, 2023

Alberta has given the Commonwealth Games its latest setback after the Canadian province pulled the plug on a possible bid to stage the 2030 event.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the key issues in this story.

What has happened?

Just a couple of weeks on from the Australian state of Victoria abruptly withdrawing as hosts for the 2026 Commonwealth Games citing rising costs, the government of Alberta announced a halt to its attempt to bring the 2030 event to cities Calgary and Edmonton.

Alberta’s Tourism and Sport Minister Joseph Schow has baulked at an estimated price tag of up to £1.57billion, a bill which he says would have been landed largely at the feet of the taxpayers.

How bad is this latest news?

Alberta had not been awarded the Games, merely mulling over whether to submit an offer, whereas the Commonwealth Games Federation is scrambling to find a replacement for Victoria in three years’ time.

But Alberta stepping away comes a few months after Hamilton, Ontario – which hosted the inaugural Games in 1930 – suspended its effort for a centenary event because of a lack of government support.

Right now, the Commonwealth Games has no host for 2026, one fewer suitor in a shallow pool of choices for 2030, while its overall viability and relevance in the modern world is coming under increasing scrutiny.

What can be done to entice bidders?

Organisers have attempted to provide hosts with flexibility to keep costs down, while the CGF is keen to work with international sports federations on providing a global showcase for their new innovations.

Birmingham 2022 broke new ground with the introduction of 3×3 basketball, with T20 women’s cricket also making its debut at a multi-sport event and setting world attendance records.

Is staging the Commonwealth Games too costly?

The costs set out by Victoria of up to £3.6bn, if correct, are eye-watering and way above the cost of staging Birmingham 2022 – put at £778million by the British Government, which is just over half of what put Alberta off.

However, the CGF argues Victoria’s approach to hosting was a factor in some of those costs. It chose, for example, not to use existing sports facilities in Melbourne in favour of developing temporary sites in the regional state hubs it planned to use for the Games.

Victoria was the first Games host that was able to benefit from a new CGF hosting ‘roadmap’ which, among other things, reduced the number of compulsory sports from 16 to two and removed the requirement to provide a bespoke athletes’ village.

The British Government and Birmingham City Council would disagree that staging a Games has to be a money pit.

An independent report published in January this year said Birmingham 2022 had contributed £870.7m to the UK economy, with over half the economic impact generated (£453.7million) benefiting businesses and communities across the West Midlands.

Who could host in 2026?

CGF chief executive Katie Sadleir said last month all options will be considered, including the UK.

“The UK are fantastic hosts and we would be very open to having a conversation with them about it, if that’s something they would be interested in doing,” she told the PA news agency.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said he hoped a “viable solution” could be found for Australia to host the Games. Asked if the British Government would encourage a UK bid, the spokesman said: “We are getting slightly ahead of ourselves.”

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf told PA: “Let’s see what’s possible, but I think it will be quite challenging.”

Gold Coast, which staged the Games in 2018, seems readier to step in. Tom Tate, the city’s mayor, said in quotes reported by ABC in Australia recently: “The premier of Victoria’s lemon, the Gold Coast can turn that into lemonade because that’s how we roll.”

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