Valley left in state of total shock

File image




That was the overriding emotion felt by many across the region last week, after the state government’s bombshell announcement that the 2026 Commonwealth Games would be cancelled.

The Latrobe Valley, along with a host of other regional areas across Victoria, were to host Games events in three years’ time.

Not anymore.

There was to be cricket in Moe, rugby in Morwell, badminton in Traralgon and road cycling coming through the area.

Local businesses, hospitality and accommodation providers were set to benefit from the sudden influx of visitors and athletes when the Games rolled into town in March 2026.

This was to be the Valley’s marquee event, showcasing the region’s sporting facilities on a global scale, in the first Commonwealth Games under King Charles’ reign.

Thousands of local kids would have surely been inspired to achieve great things, seeing international athletes competing in their own backyard.

Try telling those kids they’ll be no Christmas.

That’s how some in the Valley felt when the announcement came through last Tuesday.

The news hit hard, and unexpectedly, when Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the startling revelation the Games’ budget had blown out by an astonishing $4 billion – more than twice as much than had been originally budgeted for.

As far as the state government was concerned, it couldn’t justify spending more than $6 billion on a two-week event.

“We were pleased to be asked to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games – but not at any price,” Mr Andrews said.

“I think all Victorians would agree that more than $6 billion for a 12-day sporting event just doesn’t make sense.”

The state not only broke the news to a disbelieving public, but then had to advise the Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games Australia it was terminating the Host Agreement.

The announcement set off a chain of logistical firestorms, as the race to find a new host for 2026 went into overdrive.

Although the Games themselves won’t go ahead, the state has committed to a $2 billion package that includes delivering regional housing, tourism and events.

As well as this, every one of the permanent new and upgraded sporting infrastructure projects planned as part of the Games will still proceed. This includes upgrades to Ted Summerton Reserve, Moe, and the Gippsland Sports and Entertainment Park, Morwell (Falcons Park).

While this presented a ‘better than nothing’ outcome, many locals still couldn’t help but feel let down by the state government, with the decision a further hammer-blow to the region following the scheduled end of native timber harvesting by the end of the year.

Local opposition MPs reacted swiftly to the decision, while further abroad, former Liberal MP Nicolle Flint labelled it a “national embarrassment”.

Compounding the issue was the fact no other Australian state was prepared to host the Games themselves, calling into question Victoria’s financial capacity to do so from the outset.

Closer to home, those most affected – the local sporting clubs who would have needed to vacate, were understandably devastated.

Clubs spent most of last week gathering their thoughts, contemplating an opportunity snatched from their grasp, a whole three years out.