Victoria has been confirmed as the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, with regional parts of the state set to host the majority of events.
- The 2026 Commonwealth Games will be held primarily in regional Victoria
- The opening ceremony will be at the MCG but most events will be in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland
- There will be four athletes’ villages in the regional centers hosting events
Regional hubs will be set up in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland, with athletes’ villages to be established in each centre.
The opening ceremony will be held in Melbourne at the MCG, with the rest of the events to be held the regions.
Shepparton will also host sporting and cultural events as part of the games.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the games would be an opportunity to showcase regional parts of the state, and to invest in sporting infrastructure in those areas.
“This is also about creating jobs, some nearly 4,000 jobs during the Commonwealth Games and some 3,000 enduring jobs thereafter.”
The president of the Commonwealth Games Federation Dame Louise Martin said the 2026 event would be unlike any other.
“Commonwealth Games Australia and the Victorian Government have set out a bold and innovative vision for hosting our major multi-sport event,” she said.
“In Victoria, we believe we have found the perfect partner for the next stage of our journey.”
The government announced in February it would enter a two-month negotiation period with the Commonwealth Games Federation over commercial aspects of the event.
Events spread across four regional centers
Commonwealth Games organizers said 16 sports had so far been confirmed for the games, with more to be added later.
The initial plan for hosting events includes:
- Geelong — aquatics, beach volleyball, gymnastics, hockey, table tennis, triathlon
- Ballarat — athletics, boxing
- Bendigo — lawn bowls, netball, squash, weightlifting
- Gippsland—badminton, rugby sevens
The cricket T20 event will be held across all four centres, and the road cycling event will be between Gippsland and Bendigo.
Bendigo will also host lawn bowls, para lawn bowls, netball and squash.
Bendigo Bowls Club President Geoff Briggs said it was fantastic news for the town.
“Bendigo has really got the reputation of being the premier bowls location in regional Victoria,” he says.
He said the clubs were likely to benefit from heightened interest.
“It will certainly be a boost for all of the clubs,” Mr Briggs said.
“There’ll be so many spectators along with all the participants, it will be just wonderful for the clubs that have chosen to host these events.”
Mr Briggs hoped younger people might be inspired to try the sport.
“It might be just the impetus needed to make younger people join in with the clubs in the town,” he said.
Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe told ABC Radio Melbourne the games will re-energize Victoria’s regions.
“It’s just an incredibly broad economic opportunity for our regions, but how exciting — coming out of COVID and for people to be able to come out to our regions, we welcome them,” she said.
Calls for broad approach
The Victorian Opposition welcomed the announcement, but said it wanted to see events spread across more regional towns.
“It’s not just about Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo — it should be about places like Hamilton, Horsham, Wangaratta, Echuca,” Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said.
Victorian Liberal senator Sarah Henderson called on Daniel Andrews to move the opening ceremony from the MCG to Kardinia Park in Geelong.
Chair of the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership David Jochinke said even regions not hosting events stood to benefit with the right support.
Mr Jochinke said other regions should be given the opportunity to upgrade and build facilities and accommodation.
“But also making sure accommodation in an already tight market can then be used post-games for low-cost accommodation, emergency housing or where the gaps are in those regions,” he said.
“If they are portable type, maybe those units can be picked up and taken around the regions where we need them.”
It will be the sixth time the Commonwealth Games has been held in Australia, with Sydney hosting in 1938, Perth in 1962, Brisbane in 1982, Melbourne in 2006, and the Gold Coast in 2018.