Malaysia to host 2026 Commonwealth Games?

by Amiril Muttaqien Meketar

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11: Is Malaysia ready to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games?

For this to happen, Malaysia must be bold and brave to take risks by accepting the offer made by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to replace Australia who have withdrawn as hosts for 2026 edition, says a former sports administrator.

The host for the 2026 Commonwealth Games fell vacant after Victoria decided to withdraw last July, citing the high cost for organising the games which has been estimated to be in the region of AUD2.6 billion (RM8.09 billion) to AUD7 billion (about RM21.78 billion). The Victorian government has reportedly agreed to pay AUD380 million for breaching the contract to host the games from March 17 to 29, 2026.

The former National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz felt that although hosting the Commonwealth Games would incur high costs, the offer of 100 million pounds (about RM601 million) from the CGF to support a proposal for Malaysia to host the 2026 Games would ease the financial burden of the host country.

“If we examine carefully, there are no big risks involved, especially with the injection of funds from the CGF. We will not progress if we are always looking for an easy path or be cautious in accepting challenges because any country can only move forward if they are ready to take risks by weighing the positive factors.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) must study all aspects before preparing and submitting a working paper to the Cabinet for consideration and decision (to become the 2026 Commonwealth Games host),” he told Bernama today.

Dr Ramlan said Malaysia must be prudent in managing funds provided by the CGF to organise the 2026 Commonwealth Games by focusing on upgrading the existing competition venues, transportation and allowances for officials and staff involved.

He added that Malaysia would not have to fork out too much since the participating countries would be paying for accommodation, food and flights.

“The participating countries through their respective Olympic councils would also pay the cost of participation for every athlete to the organiser, ” he said.

Dr Ramlan, who was also the former National Sports Institute (ISN) chief executive officer, said with about two years remaining for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, Malaysia need not worry about the quality of organising a spectacular sporting event because the country had highly qualified and experienced officials in hosting major sporting events in the past.

“I myself was involved as a medical officer in the 2023 Hockey World Cup in India, 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in China, and 2023 Junior Hockey World Cup here.

“We are all aware that there are many Malaysian officials who hold high profile positions in international sports organisations. Therefore, there should not be any problem in management, technical expertise and preparation of officials,” he said.

Dr Ramlan said the preparation of Malaysiam athletes was also not an issue because athletes were already undergoing various programmes, including the Podium Programme and Road To Gold and they also participate in numerous international competitions.

He believed that the situation when Malaysia hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games was different because it had to build many sporting venues then while athletes had to start from scratch in some sports like lawn bowls and rhythmic gymnastics.

“…and now we are in position where we are world class in lawn bowls. The argument that you need similar amount of time around five to six years to prepare athletes is no longer a strong argument,” he said.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) said in a statement today that discussions were being held with KBS in relation to the possibility of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games following the official invitation by the CGF.

OCM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said the government must consider the once in a lifetime opportunity to host the games and the financial assistance offered by the CGF.

A positive decision could help Malaysia continue its legacy of having organised the 1998 Commonwealth Games successfully and claim a spot among the elite sporting host nations of the world.

On Saturday, Yourth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said the cabinet would be making a decision whether Malaysia would be interested in hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games or not.