James Magnussen rips Daniel Andrews as Commonwealth Games 'embarrassment' slammed

The Victorian government has announced the state will no longer host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

James Magnussen, pictured here at the Commonwealth Games.
James Magnussen has slammed the decision to scrap the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. Image: Getty

Aussie swimming champion James Magnussen has lashed out at Daniel Andrews' decision to scrap the 2026 Commonwealth Games, which were set to be held in regional Victoria. Mr Andrews made the shock announcement on Tuesday that the Games will not go ahead in the state due to funding issues.

The 12-day event was forecast to cost the state $2.6 billion, but Mr Andrews revealed on Tuesday that the figure was more in the region of $6-7 billion. The Victorian Premier said his government would no longer support the Games because it was clear the cost was far too expensive.

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"Frankly, $6 billion to $7 billion for a 12-day sporting event, we are not doing that - that does not represent value for money, that is all costs and no benefit," he said. Mr Andrews said even if the federal government could come to the party, the Games were not worth the money.

"I wouldn't spend half of that money even if I got the other half from Canberra, because you know that's coming at the expense of something else - hospitals, schools, roads," he said.

Reacting to the announcement on Tuesday, a number of Aussie athletes were left fuming. "It's really disappointing," Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimmer Magnussen told SEN radio.

James Magnussen, pictured here at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
James Magnussen (second from left) at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. (Photo by Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

"The Commonwealth Games holds a special place in Australian athletes' hearts. We don't get a grand final every year like you do in the football codes. We train year-round to perform often once per year.

"You've got a World Champs year, you've got a Comm Games year, and you've got an Olympics year. Take that out of the cycle and we're racing once every two years.

"As an athlete who competed at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and for all those fans who went along... that was a massive event and was very well received. It still holds a lot of importance in the sporting landscape here in Australia. That's essentially the biggest recruitment tool for a sport like swimming. People are watching NRL and AFL every weekend.

"Something like the Commonwealth Games on home soil just ignites that dream for a young athlete. It has a huge impact on those sports. "

Swimming Australia head coach Rohan Taylor said he hopes the 2026 Games will be relocated, describing the event as crucial in the build-up to the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane. "It's disappointing for the Australian public to miss out on having that event which we know is a great opportunity for our athletes to represent their country," Taylor told AAP.

"I'm disappointed they are not going to get the opportunity to do that ... athletes perform in front of home crowds. Hopefully we will see what the option that the Commonwealth Games Federation come up with, where it could be hosted.

"That's a really important competition for not only swimming but our nation. Hopefully it will be relocated somewhere else. Particularly with the build-up to Brisbane (Olympics), it's always good to have international competition."

Australia's swimmers have dominated the country's medal hauls at previous Commonwealth Games, claiming 734 of the nation's 2596 medals overall. Swimmers have won 307 of Australia's 1001 gold medals - the most of any country in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas declared later on Tuesday that he has intentions to bid for the city to host the Games instead, telling Triple M radio: "What Western Australia should be in the position to particular Perth as the host city, is say to the Commonwealth Games Federation 'We’ll build an athletes village for $500 million, that’ll provide housing for West Australians after the games for about 7 000 people’.”

Daniel Andrews, pictured here after announcing Victoria will no longer host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Daniel Andrews speaks to the media after announcing Victoria will no longer host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. (AAP Image/James Ross)

Sam Groth blasts Daniel Andrews over 'embarrassment'

Retired Aussie tennis player-turned-politician Sam Groth wrote on Twitter: "The Premier, Deputy Premier and the Andrews Labor government has failed regional Victoria. It’s an embarrassment and is hugely damaging to our international reputation as a global events leader. Labor cannot be believed any longer as it continues to break its promises.

"Everyone in regional cities that was supposed to benefit, not only from legacy pieces but also, the benefit of people visiting these areas, for tourism and hospitality operators, as well as for local tenders in the delivery of the games, will now miss out on the opportunity. Labor simply cannot be believed any longer as it continues to break promises because of its own incompetence. Victoria is broke and Victorians continue to being punished by a tired, corrupt and incompetent government."

Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto and Nationals Leader Peter Walsh described the scrapping as "a massive humiliation for Victoria". They said in a joint statement: "The cancellation of the Commonwealth Games is hugely damaging to Victoria's reputation as a global events leader."

Greens MP Ellen Sandell said it was disappointing the government had wasted so much time and money on the Games, when it could have been investing in addressing the housing and cost-of-living crises. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) also issued a strongly worded statement voicing their disappointment, blaming the government's idea for a regional Games on the ballooning costs.

"The reasons given are financial. The numbers quoted to us today of $6 billion are 50 per cent more than those advised to the Organising Committee board at its meeting in June," the CGF said in a statement from its London headquarters. "These figures are attributed to price escalation primarily due to the unique regional delivery model that Victoria chose for these Games, and in particular relate to village and venue builds and transport infrastructure."

with AAP

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