Sarah Fitz-Gerald, Michelle Martin
Australians Sarah Fitz-Gerald (l) and Michelle Martin contest the squash final at Kuala Lumpur 1998. Image by Darren McNamara/AAP PHOTOS
  • Commonwealth Games

Malaysia fancied as host for 2026 Commonwealth Games

Glenn Moore March 12, 2024

Malaysia has emerged as a frontrunner to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games after receiving an offer of almost $200 million to help salvage the multi-sport event.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has offered Malaysia $194 million towards hosting the Games as negotiations continue with several nations, including Australia.

The CGF offer would be funded from the $380 million in compensation paid by the state of Victoria which withdrew as host last year, citing cost blowouts.

Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips declined to comment on the Malaysia offer on Tuesday.

But Phillips has previously said Australia, while remaining keen to host the 2026 edition, would support other nations being given hosting rights.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia has confirmed the offer to replace Victoria as host of the next Games, which could be postponed until 2027.

“The offer includes significant financial investment of Stg 100 million ($194 million) to support the local delivery and legacy planning of the 2026 edition,” the council said in a statement.

A ‘formal invitation’ to host was received last month from the CGF, with two other nations outside of Australia also understood to have canvassed initial interest in hosting.

The CGF confirmed the possibility of the event being held in Malaysia.

“Malaysia has a fantastic track record of delivering sporting events and the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur were hugely successful,” a CGF spokesperson said.

“We are encouraged by their early concepts of building on this legacy through the use of many of the same world-class facilities.”

The CGF said it was in “advanced, confidential discussions with potential hosts” – any of which would benefit from the promised $194 million financial and strategic support available from the Victoria withdrawal settlement.

Daniel Andrews
 Then-premier Daniel Andrews explains Victoria’s withdrawal from hosting the Commonwealth Games. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Commonwealth Games Malaysia president Mohamad Norza Zakaria urged his government to accept the financial incentive.

“CGA Malaysia is of the opinion that the government of Malaysia should consider this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – and the associated support and financial investment – which will build on the success of Kuala Lumpur 1998 and put Malaysia back onto the world sporting map,” he said in a statement.

“The hosting will involve minimal government spending and bring significant socio-economic benefits to the country.”

Malaysia is preparing to host the 2027 South East Asian Games, which will utilise similar infrastructure.

The future of the next Commonwealth Games has been clouded since Victoria’s withdrawal.

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate offered to step in, and explored the possibility of sharing the Games with Perth, but failed to attract the necessary government support.

Last month, Phillips said Australia co-hosting with other nations was being considered, citing the fact the Paris Olympics includes events in Tahiti as well as last year’s successful co-hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup by Australia and New Zealand.

Adam Gilchrist, Darren Lehmann
 Australia, with Adam Gilchrist (c) and Darren Lehmann (l), won cricket silver at Kuala Lumpur 1998. Image by Rob Cox/AAP PHOTOS 

Malaysia last hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998 in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Australia topped the medal table at that edition with 198, including 80 golds.

Among them was Michelle Martin winning an all-Australian squash final, while the 61 silvers included cricket with Steve Waugh’s side losing to South Africa in the final.

– with PA