Malaysia rejects offer to host 2026 Commonwealth Games

Malaysia has rejected an offer to hold the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to time constraints, costs and an insufficient offer of funding, its government said on Friday, in a major setback for a quadrennial multi-sport event that has struggled to find hosts.

Malaysia was asked to step in after the Australian state of Victoria withdrew, citing ballooning costs, with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) offering 100 million pounds ($126 million) in supporting funds.

Malaysia ruling itself out raises the possibility that the Games may not take place for the first time since being cancelled in 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War.

Malaysia could not commit to hosting the contest at such short notice with cost concerns and little time to assess the potential economic impact, officials said.

"If we had a longer time, we would definitely do it, but because there's such a short time, we definitely can't do it," government spokesperson and Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil told a regular briefing.

"When we assessed the viability of hosting the Games, the length of time needed and the cost was seen to be particularly prohibitive."

The CGF expressed disappointment at Malaysia's decision, but said its search for a host was continuing.

"The confidential process to determine a host is continuing with other interested Commonwealth Games Associations," a CGF spokesperson said, without elaborating.


The Games are typically contested by about 70 countries and territories of the former British empire and medals tables have in recent editions been dominated by Australia, England, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa.

Victoria's withdrawal had already placed the future of the event in doubt and raised questions about whether a Games with colonial origins was still relevant in the modern era, and over its place in an already packed global sporting calendar.

TV rights, the main income driver for international sports events, are tiny for the Commonwealth Games compared to other large-scale competitions, meaning national and local governments can face budget deficits if hosting.

Malaysia's youth and sports ministry said the 100 million pounds funding it was offered would not be enough to cover the costs of hosting the Games.

"Additionally, the economic impact could not be identified in this short timeframe," the ministry said.

The Games has struggled to find a willing host in recent years and five of the last six editions have been held in Australia or Britain.

The English city of Birmingham, which had been due to host in 2026, stepped in to save the 2022 event after South Africa were stripped of hosting rights over a lack of progress in preparations.

Birmingham's move led to the CGF scrambling to find another host for 2026 and Victoria had been the only viable candidate after several other cities withdrew from the bidding process over cost issues.

The proposal had received a mixed response in Malaysia, which hosted the 1998 edition, over the lack of preparation time and costs.

The Malaysian Olympic Council had initially proposed holding a downsized Games, with limited spending on athletes' accommodation and smaller opening and closing ceremonies.

posted Friday March 29th
by Reuters