Malaysia rejects offer to host 2026 Commonwealth Games due to ‘reckless’ costs

Malaysia’s government announced on Friday that it had decided not to hold the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to cost, dealing a new blow to an event considered by some to be outdated.

The decision was made at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim following the withdrawal of the Australian state of Victoria last year.

“The Ministry of Youth and Sport today announced the government’s decision not to accept the offer from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” Minister Hannah Yeo said in a statement.

CGF has been scrambling to find a new host after the State of Victoria withdrew from the project last July due to rising costs.

The CGF has provided 100 million pounds ($125 million) in aid to Malaysia and other potential hosts, with just over two years left until the Games.

However, the Malaysian government said the proposal was “not expected to cover the entire cost of hosting a major sporting event”, Mr Yeo said.

“The government wants to focus not only on the development of sports, but also on the welfare and well-being of the people,” she added.

Victoria’s abrupt move and lack of a clear alternative sparked debate over the future of the Olympics, which are held every four years and were last held in Birmingham in 2022.

Earlier this month, the CGF praised Malaysia’s “excellent performance” in hosting the 1998 Olympic Games, which mainly included former British colonies.

However, the CGF also hinted that Malaysia was not the only country approached to host the Olympics.

Singapore recently said it was “assessing the feasibility” of the CGF proposal.

The wealthy city-state also hosts the annual Formula 1 night race and is scheduled to host the World Aquatics Championships in 2025.

The prospect of Malaysia bidding to host the Olympics has sparked intense debate.

Malaysian Commonwealth Games Association president Mohamad Norza Zakaria said this was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” that could put Malaysia back on the sporting map.

But questions about that idea emerged last week after current and former senior officials expressed disapproval.

Former Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin has trolled the idea, calling it “reckless” as the Olympics are just around the corner and there is little time to plan.

He told AFP that any host would need at least four years to upgrade venues, plan sponsorships and develop infrastructure.

“The Commonwealth Games are not an important, high-profile sporting event,” he added.

“As far as multi-sport events go, it doesn’t even come close to the Olympics or even the Asian Games in terms of participation, exposure and revenue,” Kiley said.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)

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First published: March 22, 2024, 15:21 IST

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