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Alberta ends bid for centenary Commonwealth Games

Alexander Stadium hosts athletics during the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Featured image credit: Rob Ridley

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has been hit with a fresh blow after the Canadian province of Alberta withdrew support for what had been the only bid for the 2030 edition of the multi-sport event.

Alberta’s Minister of Tourism and Sport, Joseph Schow, made the announcement of the withdrawal of provincial support yesterday (Thursday), casting doubt over whether the Games would represent a return on investment.

A Canadian bid had been pursued for the 2030 Games designed to mark the centenary of the inaugural edition, then known as the British Empire Games, which was held in Hamilton in 1930. Alberta was considering a joint bid between Calgary, Edmonton and the Tsuut’ina Nation, with the province having already invested C$2m (£1.18m/€1.37m/$1.5m) into bid exploration, and Calgary and Edmonton each contributing C$1m.

Schow said: “Alberta has a successful history of hosting major, international multi-sport games in our province and any proposal to host major games is considered with the interests of Alberta taxpayers at top of mind.

“We committed to remain transparent with Albertans about the costs of hosting international sporting events and clearly demonstrating a return on our investment for the people and communities in Alberta. That is why we have made the decision not to continue pursuing the bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games.

“Based on current bid estimates, hosting the 2030 Commonwealth Games could result in a cost of up to C$2.68bn. The corporate sponsorship model and limited broadcast revenues for the Commonwealth Games would have put 93 per cent of those costs and risks on taxpayers.

“We thank the partners for working with us to explore the possibility of hosting the Commonwealth Games here in our beautiful province.”

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s office told CBC that the provincial government’s withdrawal “effectively terminates” the bid. Amanda Espinoza, executive director of operations with the Alberta 2030 Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, said she learned of the province pulling support on Wednesday.

She added: “We are disappointed with the unexpected decision by the Government of Alberta. In less than a month we were going to share the plan with the public and were eager to have an open dialogue about community priorities, advancing Reconciliation and building a vision as Albertans that we could collectively work towards.”

The latest news comes less than a month after the Australian state of Victoria’s shock decision to terminate its hosting agreement for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, raising further questions over the long-term viability of the event in its current form.

While the English city of Birmingham last year held what was a widely-lauded Games, the CGF has long struggled with the bidding and hosting processes for its premier event. The state government in Victoria announced it would not proceed with hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games due to rising costs involved with staging the event.

The government said that it was now “certain” that the cost of hosting the Games would exceed A$6bn (£3.1bn/€3.6bn/$4.1bn), which would be more than twice the estimated economic benefit the event would bring to the state.