April 13, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Having won the bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026, the Victorian government estimates the event will deliver a $3 billion legacy for the state.

“This is a very important day for our state, particularly for regional Victoria,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at Tuesday’s announcement.

In confirming the Games would be hosted in Victoria in 2026, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Dame Louise Martin emphasised the legacy benefits of the event.

“We are passionately committed to creating a lasting legacy for Victorians. Young people across the state will see the Commonwealth’s best athletes competing right on their doorstep which will create inspiring moments that will last them a lifetime,” she said.

“Local communities will benefit from brand new initiatives and legacy projects like the houses for the athlete’s villages. Local businesses will benefit from tenders and contracts.

“In addition to sport, there are incredibly exciting plans to support trade and business, showcase your arts and culture and of course respect and celebrate owners of those lands,” said Martin.

“This has been a real team effort to reach this historic moment and on behalf of the Federation, I would like to pay tribute to Premier Andrews and Minister Pakula whose ambitions for this event and this state are second to none.”

Sixteen sports have already been confirmed for the event, with more to be added later this year.

The opening ceremony of the event will be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, with all sporting events to take place in regional Victoria.

Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo and Gippsland will act as major regional hubs for the Commonwealth Games, with multiple sports and athletes’ villages to be hosted in each destination. Other satellite hubs are to be announced going forward, with Shepparton already flagged as an arts and culture host for the Games.

Swimming and diving, gymnastics and beach volleyball will all be hosted in Geelong, while Ballarat will host the athletics program, as well as boxing. Bendigo will host lawn bowls, netball and squash while Gippsland will be home to rugby sevens and badminton. Cycling will take place from Gippsland to Bendigo.

“It’ll be the greatest spotlight, the greatest showcase of all that we have to offer in not just sport, but in tourism, in food and wine, in experiences – in just quality – across regional Victoria,” said Andrews.

The Premier said the cost of the Games would be significant but would not outweigh the expected economic benefit and would be outlined in the state budget, set to be released on May 3.

He said the legacy benefits would include upgraded stadia, and boosts to skills, jobs and housing.

“Every part of regional Victoria will share in this, and every part of regional Victoria will benefit from it.

“[We’ve] got so much to share with the world and this is a fantastic platform to do that,” said Andrews.

Victoria’s Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula said Victoria’s proposal for the Games was a new model for the major global event.

“This really does deliver to the Federation an opportunity for a new model in how the Commonwealth Games can be delivered in the future – less city-centric, more devolved, more involving of communities – and it’s something that we are very, very excited about.

“Now the hard work begins.”