Hobart and Launceston could host the 2026 Commonwealth Games under a bold bid to take the athletic showpiece to Tasmania.
Premier Peter Gutwein has written to the chief executive of Commonwealth Games Australia, Craig Phillips, formally requesting that Tasmania be given consideration as a host for the event.
State Sport Minister Jane Howlett said the state was ready to make the most of the opportunity.
“Our government is committed to delivering more elite sporting content for Tasmanians to enjoy — and importantly, provide pathways for local sports men, women and children,” she said.
The 2022 Games will be held later this year in Birmingham in the England midlands after Durban in South Africa was stripped of the hosting rights in 2017 over a lack of progress.
Birmingham had been scheduled to host the 2026 event, but was called on to accelerate preparation in order to deliver the games this year, leaving 2026 vacant.
Melbourne has reportedly been approached to host in four years’ time, but the Victorian government is remaining tight lipped about its plans.
Ms Howlett said her government would even consider Tasmania co-hosting the event.
“We are confident that we can work collaboratively with Commonwealth Games Australia on the opportunities Tasmania presents as either a host or co-host.”
Last year, a PriceWaterHouseCoopers report determined Commonwealth Games cities saw an increase in tourism by up to 25 per cent four years after hosting the games.
However, the cost of staging a games would be in the hundreds of millions.
The bid for the 2026 games comes after Hobart successfully hosted the 5th Ashes test, and could be used as leverage by the Tasmanian government to encourage a federal spending spree in Tasmania.
Tasmania is pushing hard for entry into the AFL and the A-League, but the lack of suitable stadia, including a fit-for-purpose rectangular stadium, has been a stumbling block to the state’s plans.
It was also a key factor in Tasmania missing out on women’s football World Cup fixtures, with the tournament due to be played in Australia next year.
A Commonwealth Games bid would continue the Tasmanian government’s push for more elite sport and high-profile events in the state, and further its desire to use new sporting infrastructure to help drive the state’s economy out of the pandemic.
Last year it took ownership of the Derwent Entertainment Centre and completed a $60 million refurb of the arena, which now houses Tasmania’s NBL team, the Jack Jumpers.
The Commonwealth Games Federation last year unveiled a new strategic roadmap that provides hosts with more flexibility over the event, in an effort to make hosting more desirable.
It may mean hosts can spread athlete villages over multiple sites and have more flexibility in choosing sports that would help make the games a success.
Australia last hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2018 on the Gold Coast.
Source: Jack Snape and Chris Rowbottom