Brexit concerns see Wales drop bid plan for 2026 Commonwealth Games

The Welsh Government has today (Tuesday) said the country will not pursue initial plans to bid for the 2026 edition of the Commonwealth Games multi-sport event, citing “current financial uncertainty” as a result of the Brexit vote as the main reason behind the decision.

Wales had been pursuing a bid to host the Games, with a number of high profile political figures having declared their support for such a move. However, Welsh Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates has said that following a feasibility report, the cabinet concluded it is not in a position to place a bid. He said the projected cost of up to £1.54bn (€1.8bn/$2bn) would place too much strain on the Welsh Government and its budget, given the outcome of last month's Brexit vote.

“Given the high cost, our understanding that an all-Wales bid was less likely to be supported and the current funding uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU, we have reluctantly concluded that the bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games is not feasible,” Skates said, according to the WalesOnline website.

“I would stress that the work we have undertaken has not been wasted. It has highlighted the need for us to undertake a review of sports facilities in Wales with a view to increasing our spread of world class venues.”

Despite the decision, Skates did not rule out a potential bid for another edition of the multi-sport event, with the Welsh Government to revisit the subject in the future. He said: “Hosting a future Commonwealth Games remains a Welsh ambition and we will continue to discuss flexible delivery options for future bid cycles.”

In response, David Grevemberg, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), said he was “disappointed” with Wales’ decision, but pledged to support the country should it opt to participate in future bidding processes.

Grevemberg said: “We are obviously disappointed to hear Wales will not be putting itself forward to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games when the bid process commences in 2019. Commonwealth Games Wales, in collaboration with its government partners, has worked hard to lay the foundations of a dynamic, innovative and inclusive Games proposition and we will continue to work closely with them to support their efforts to bring the Commonwealth Games back to Wales in the future.”

Helen Phillips, who chairs the board of Commonwealth Games Wales, was also disappointed about the decision, but welcomed the Welsh Government’s pledge to improve sports facilities across the country.

Phillips added: “We very much welcome the Welsh Government's commitment to improving sports facilities across Wales, and to look at delivery options for future bidding cycles. We were encouraged by the cross-party support for the ambition to consider a bid and we will continue to work with the Government and others to look at the possibility of Wales bidding for a future Games.”

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood was one of the political figures to have backed initial plans to place a bid. In February, she said the Welsh political party would bid for the Games in 2026 or 2030, if were elected to power this year. However, Labour won the May elections with 34.7 per cent of the overall vote.

Following the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the Gold Coast in Australia will host the 2018 Games before it travels to Durban, South Africa in 2022.