Singapore rules out hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games

It is another blow for the event, which remains in limbo after the Australian state of Victoria, the original host, pulled out due to escalating costs.

Kimberly Kwek

Kimberly Kwek

The Straits Times


Fireworks go off at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony held at Alexander Stadium. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

April 4, 2024

SINGAPORE – The search for a new host for the 2026 Commonwealth Games continues, with Singapore deciding not to make a bid to organise the upcoming edition of the multi-sport event.

In a joint statement issued on April 3, Commonwealth Games Singapore (CGS) and Sport Singapore (SportSG) said that they “have studied the feasibility of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games and have decided not to make any bid to host the Games”.

It is yet another blow for the event, which remains in limbo after the Australian state of Victoria, the original host, pulled out due to escalating costs. The budget had ballooned to A$7 billion (S$6.15 billion) from the original estimate of A$2.6 billion.

Following this, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) at its general assembly in November 2023 invited all its associations, including Singapore’s, to express their interest in taking over and confirmed £100 million (S$170 million) in “financial and strategic support” for the next host.

CGS and SportSG said on March 15 that they were “assessing the feasibility of the invite”, though experts told The Straits Times that staging the quadrennial event might not make sense for Singapore, citing reasons such as high costs and a tight timeline.

Singapore Badminton Association chief executive Alan Ow acknowledged that it was a tough decision to make, saying: “The hosting of major Games does require significant manpower and resources, so I can understand it is not an easy decision when it comes to whether we do so or not, as it involves taxpayers’ money.”

Other potential hosts that had been keen to stage the Games have since withdrawn their interest.

Australian cities Gold Coast, which hosted the 2018 Games, and Perth, also subsequently dropped their joint bid for the 2026 Games, citing a lack of support from the state or federal governments.

The Malaysian government had considered hosting it, but eventually rejected the offer due to time constraints, costs and an insufficient offer of funding.

Over 5,000 athletes from 72 nations and territories competed in the 2022 Birmingham Games across 280 events in 20 sports.

Singapore claimed four gold, four silver and four bronze medals at the Birmingham Games, which cost £778 million (S$1.33 billion) to host.

The CGF is also on the hunt for a host for the 2030 Games after the Canadian province of Alberta withdrew its bid for the event in August 2023.

Ow expressed concerns over the uncertainty of the Games, noting that the quadrennial event is a chance for Singapore’s badminton players to gain experience against top players.

He said: “The Commonwealth Games offer high-level competition with the likes of players from Canada, Malaysia, India and England.

“Such a competition allows our shuttlers to test their skills against some of the world’s best. This valuable exposure allows our shuttlers to gauge their own abilities and gain insights into different playing styles and strategies.”

Singapore Aquatics president Mark Chay noted that while missing out on the Commonwealth Games would be “one missed opportunity to race world-class swimmers” if no host is found for 2026, he also said that there are other major events such as the Asian Games and the Youth Olympic Games to look forward to in that year.

The former will be held in Nagoya, Japan, while the latter will be staged in Dakar, Senegal.

The former national swimmer said: “For years, in between Olympic Games, there have always been the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and for the youth team, the Youth Olympic Games.

“It is a really crowded year, so it’s just readjusting, something that we were used to doing during the pandemic, especially the past few years.”

While the events calendar will be packed in the lead-up to the 2028 Paralympics, para-swimmer Toh Wei Soong hopes a host is found soon.

“The Commonwealth Games have been very meaningful to me since I first competed in Gold Coast 2018,” said the 25-year-old, who is eyeing a gold in 2026.

“It’s one of the only major Games in the world that sees both able-bodied and para-athletes competing, warming up and living together in the same venues.

“It is a sight worth seeing at least once in a lifetime, and thankfully I’ve been able to medal at two of these Games and I have fond memories from each of them.”

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