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Malaysia offered a fortune to step in as Commonwealth Games host after Victoria's withdrawal

The Australian Swimming team will be out to take home a record haul of medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
11th March, 2024

The 2026 Commonwealth Games could be staged in Malaysia after the country’s Olympic Council said there was a £100 million ($A194 m) offer to assist with hosting.

The cash has come from the compensation paid by the state of Victoria which withdrew last year citing cost overruns leaving the multi-sport event without an official host. 

The offer might put an end to continuing Australia attempts to co-host – or might enhance them by making it easier for potential partners.

“The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has offered Malaysia the opportunity to replace Victoria as hosts of the Commonwealth Games in 2026,” a statement on the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) website said. 

“The offer includes significant financial investment of £100million to support the local delivery and legacy planning of the 2026 edition.” 

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The statement said a “formal invitation” to host was received last month from the CGF. 


Although they stopped short of confirming that a “formal invitation” has been made, a CGF spokesperson did acknowledge interest in the possibility of Malaysia hosting the event in 2026.

“Malaysia has a fantastic track record of delivering sporting events and the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur were hugely successful,” said the spokesperson.

“We are encouraged by their early concepts of building on this legacy through use of many of the same world class facilities.”

The CGF added that it is in “advanced, confidential discussions with potential hosts”, any of which would benefit from £100m of financial and strategic support available via the Victoria withdrawal settlement.

Victoria paid CGF $380 million in compensation after pulling out of hosting. The state’s Labor government,  under former premier Daniel Andrews, said the cost of hosting had ballooned to more than $7bn. 

“What’s become clear is that the cost of hosting these Games in 2026 is not the $2.6bn which was budgeted and allocated,” he said. “It is in fact at least $6bn and could be as high as $7bn.”

Goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram of Team Australia is congratulated by teammates.

(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)


Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips said at the time the stated cost overrun was “a gross exaggeration”.

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate sought to step in, even floating the idea of sharing the Games with Perth, but failed to attract the necessary wider support.

Last month Phillips told AAP Australia co-hosting with other nations is being considered, citing the fact the Paris Olympics includes events in Tahiti and the successful co-hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup with New Zealand.

Malaysia last hosted the multi-sport event 26 years ago, in Kuala Lumpur. Australia topped the medal table with 198 including 80 golds, among them Michelle Martin winning an all-Australian squash final. The 61 silvers included cricket, Steve Waugh’s side losing to South Africa in the final. 

Mohamad Norza Zakaria, the president of Commonwealth Games Malaysia (CGA), said: “The last time Malaysia hosted the Commonwealth Games was in 1998, thus CGA Malaysia is of the opinion that the Government of Malaysia should consider this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – and the associated support and financial investment – which will build on the success of Kuala Lumpur 1998 and put Malaysia back onto the world sporting map. 

“The hosting will involve minimal Government spending and bring significant socio-economic benefits to the country.”

Malaysia is preparing to host the 2027 Sea (South East Asian) Games, which will utilise similar infrastructure.