Malaysia says no to hosting 2026 Commonwealth Games over costFri, 22 Mar 2024 07:26:21 GMT

Malaysia on Friday decided against hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games because of the cost, the government said, in a fresh blow to an event seen as outdated by some.The decision, made at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, follows the withdrawal of the Australian state of Victoria last year.”The Ministry of Youth and Sports today announced the government’s decision not to accept an offer from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” minister Hannah Yeoh said in a statement.The CGF is scrambling to find a host after Victoria withdrew last July because of soaring costs.The CGF offered Malaysia and other potential hosts 100 million pounds ($125 million) to step in with just over two years to go until the Games are supposed to take place.But the Malaysian government said the offer was “not expected to be able to cover the entire cost of organising a large-scale sports event”, Yeoh said.”The government wants to focus on the development of sports as well as the welfare and well-being of the people,” she added.Victoria’s sudden move, and the lack of an obvious alternative, triggered debate about the future of the Games, which take place every four years and were last held in Birmingham in 2022.The CGF earlier this month hailed Malaysia’s “fantastic track record”, the country having staged the Games — which mostly includes former British colonies — in 1998.But the CGF also suggested that Malaysia was not the only country it had approached to host the Games. Singapore recently said it was “assessing the feasibility” of the CGF’s proposal.The wealthy city-state also holds the Formula One night race annually and will be staging the World Aquatics Championships in 2025.- ‘Reckless’ -The prospect of Malaysia stepping in to host the Games had sparked fierce debate.Mohamad Norza Zakaria, president of the Commonwealth Games Association of Malaysia, had called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that could put Malaysia back on the sporting map.But doubts emerged last week over the idea after current and former senior officials expressed reservations.Khairy Jamaluddin, a former youth and sports minister, rubbished the idea and called it “reckless” because the Games are coming up fast, leaving little time for planning.Any host would need at least four years to upgrade venues, plan sponsorship and set up infrastructure, he told AFP. “The Commonwealth Games is not a significant, marquee sporting event,” he added.”As far as multi-sports Games are concerned, it is nowhere near the Olympics or even the Asian Games in terms of participation, exposure and returns,” Khairy said.