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Alberta cancels bid for 2030 Commonwealth Games

CGF hit by latest setback after Victoria withdrew as 2026 host.

4 August 2023 PA

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  • Canadian province put off by CAN$2.68bn price tag
  • 93% of costs and risks would have been put on taxpayers

Canadian province Alberta has pulled the plug on a possible bid to stage the 2030 Commonwealth Games because of rising costs. 

The decision to terminate the bid, which would have involved the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, comes just weeks after the Australian state of Victoria abruptly withdrew from hosting the 2026 event over similar concerns.

Alberta’s Tourism and Sport Minister Joseph Schow estimated the price tag to be up to CAN$2.68 billion Canadian dollars (US$2.01 billion), a bill which would have been landed largely at the feet of taxpayers. 

A statement on the Alberta government’s website read: ‘We committed to remain transparent with Albertans about the costs of hosting international sporting events and clearly demonstrating a return on our investment for the people and communities in Alberta. 

‘That is why we have made the decision not to continue pursuing the bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games. 

‘Based on current bid estimates, hosting the 2030 Commonwealth Games could result in a cost of up to CAN$2.68billion. The corporate sponsorship model and limited broadcast revenues for the Commonwealth Games would have put 93 per cent of those costs and risks on taxpayers.’

Last month, Victoria’s state premier Daniel Andrews said the original budget for the Games was estimated to be around AUS$2.6 billion dollars (US$1.7 billion) but had ballooned out to nearly triple that. 

Katie Sadleir, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), said her organisation was “open” to discussions with all members with a view to replacing Victoria as hosts – including the UK. 

Before that, Sadleir said the CGF will work with its lawyers on agreeing a suitable compensation deal with Victoria following its withdrawal. 

Birmingham stepped in as hosts of the 2022 Games after the CGF stripped South African city Durban of hosting rights back in 2017.

SportsPro says…

This is the latest bit of crushing news for the Commonwealth Games after Victoria pulled out as hosts less than three weeks ago.

The fact both Alberta and Victoria feel they cannot justify the costs of hosting the Games says a lot about how the event is now viewed by many countries – rather than a legacy project that boosts the economy and sports participation at all levels, it risks being branded a financial deadweight in which the risks outweigh the benefits.

One shred of comfort for the CGF is that it does have a bit more breathing space for finding a 2030 host. As for 2026, mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he would support a bid for the British capital to host in 2026, but said any final decision would need to be made by the UK government. Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf has said he is willing to consider proposals for Scotland to host at least part of the event. Australia’s Gold Coast is also prepared to step in.

Africa could be an option, though 2026 is too soon. Barry Hendricks, the president of South Africa’s Sports and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), told the BBC: “Quietly, at the back of our minds, we know we can deliver a world-class Commonwealth Games – so we will be looking into that.”

When, or if, new hosts are announced, they will need to have been convinced by the CGF that the Commonwealth Games can add value to the cities rather than just leaving them with huge costs. At present, it looks like a tough ask.

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