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Western Australia steps up plans for Commonwealth Games bid

The Western Australia government has commissioned an audit of Perth’s sports facilities as part of plans to explore a bid for the 2026 edition of the Commonwealth Games.

The 2018 edition of the multi-sport event is currently ongoing in Australia’s Gold Coast region and the 2026 event is the next up for grabs after the English city of Birmingham last year replaced Durban in South Africa as host of the 2022 Games.

The PerthNow website reported that Peter Beattie, the chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 organising committee, has pinpointed Perth as the ideal host for the 2026 Games.

Perth’s recently-opened, 60,000-seat Optus Stadium would be able to host athletics events during the Games, while venues such as HBF Stadium, Perth SpeedDome, Whiteman Park and the Kalamunda bike trials are likely to require upgrades should the city stage the event. An athletes’ village would also need to be constructed.

Western Australia’s Sport and Recreation Minister, Mick Murray, has confirmed that VenuesWest, which operates Optus Stadium, HBF Stadium and other facilities in the state, has been instructed to carry out an audit to determine Perth’s suitability for hosting the event.

“We are having an audit of our facilities,” Murray told PerthNow. “This is twofold. One reason is that we are looking into the future to see what sporting facilities we need and the other is in case it is decided to have a crack at getting the Commonwealth Games for Perth.

“The aim is to make sure we have facilities which are up to scratch. Yes, we have a new stadium, but the stadium is only one small part of what is needed to hold a Commonwealth Games. We need to know exactly what’s needed.”

Murray added: “When you look at all the Commonwealth countries, how many could honestly stage a Commonwealth Games. Not many. Maybe four or five — Britain, South Africa, Canada and Australia come to mind. If one of them said ‘no’ to holding the Games then it could certainly make a Commonwealth Games available to Perth.”

A feasibility study to determine the financial costs of hosting the Games would also need to be carried out, Murray added. “I would love to have a Commonwealth Games in Perth but not at any cost,” he said. “So, if we want to take this any further, we will need to do a feasibility study on the returns to the state.”

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) last week said that it would consider awarding hosting rights for both the 2026 and 2030 editions of the event at the same time.

The membership has committed to a new consultative process of jointly scoping the 2026 and potentially 2030 Commonwealth Games host city partners, with 2026 targeted to be awarded at its next general assembly in September 2019.

The 71 Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) were informed of an 18-month-long consultative bidding process for the XXIII and XXIV editions of the Games, under the new CGF Partnerships model, which aims to support host nations and cities and enhance the overall value of hosting the Games.