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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

High Cost of Hosting Commonwealth Games Forces Cities to Rethink Bids

Just weeks after the Australian state of Victoria pulled out of hosting the 2026 edition of the multi-sport event, the Canadian province of Alberta has also withdrawn its bid to host the 2030 Games. In a statement, Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow said the estimated price tag of up to 2.57 billion Canadian dollars — a bill that would be landed at the feet of taxpayers — was not in line with the interests of Alberta.

Schow added that limited corporate sponsorship and broadcast revenues also made the Games a risky undertaking for the province, with the majority of costs and risks to be borne by taxpayers. The decision comes as Hamilton’s pursuit of a 2030 Games bid was killed earlier this year by Ontario government disinterest, and a Victoria volunteer group’s interest in the Games ended in February due to the British Columbia provincial government’s lack of enthusiasm.

In a post on the Alberta government’s website, Schow said that the cancellation of the bid was a “regrettable decision” but that the province will continue to work with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to find innovative ways to support hosting future editions of the Games. The CGF’s mission is to promote and develop the multi-sport event, contested by athletes from the 54 nations of the Commonwealth while providing world-class sporting facilities.

The Canadian bid was slated to see competitions and events spread between Calgary and Edmonton, with the Tsuut’ina Nation and Enoch Cree Nation also sharing some facilities. The province was set to put $2 million into a bid exploration effort, with the cities of Calgary and Edmonton each pitching in $1 million.

Commonwealth Sport Canada, which is the body responsible for organizing Canada’s teams participating in the Games, told Postmedia it was “profoundly disappointed” with the decision by the Alberta government not to pursue the Games. However, it added that the province had its priorities to focus on.

While the Games’ organizers have tried to find innovative ways of supporting hosting, the Games have been plagued with rising costs in recent years. Hosting the Games is seen as a prestige event that should attract international investment, and the CGF has been keen to help hosts keep their costs down.

But the current situation worries the future of the Games, with one less suitor in a shallow pool of potential hosts for 2030 and the Games’ viability coming under increasing scrutiny. Last year Birmingham in England stepped in to host the 2022 Games after Durban in South Africa was stripped of its rights due to financial issues. Despite this, the CGF has continued to push forward with the Games’ evolution by introducing new sports, such as 3×3 basketball and T20 women’s cricket. Birmingham’s successful hosting of the Games in 2022 may provide hope for the future.

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