Gina Rinehart says she will back the Gold Coast’s bid to save the 2026 Commonwealth Games after they were dumped by Victoria.
Australia’s richest person has pledged to work with sporting bodies and Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to help salvage the Games after Victoria sensationally pulled the pin as hosts of the event following claims of an operating costs blow out from $2.6 billion towards $7 billion.
It comes amid fears the Commonwealth Games are in free fall after Canada pulled out of a bid to host the 2030 Games.
The Games currently have no future events planned and no host city.
London and a multi-city Scottish bid for the 2026 Games have received public support. Christchurch, in New Zealand, has also shown interest.
The Courier Mail reports Rinehart is not prepared to fund the Games herself but is prepared to do whatever is needed to help the Gold Coast secure the Commonwealth Games.
A spokesman for Rinehart said “direct athlete support” would remain the focus of Hancock Prospecting’s sports funding program, but she would back a Gold Coast bid.
“Having seen the joy that athletes and their families experienced when competing in front of a home crowd for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Mrs Rinehart would certainly welcome the 2026 event to again be held in Australia, especially at the Gold Coast, where it was run so successfully before,” her spokesman said.
Rinehart has stepped up her financial backing of Olympic sports with a $60 million investment in Australian athletes competing in sports including swimming, rowing and volleyball.
The 69-year-old was in the stands in Japan to watch Australia top the medal tally with 13 golds at the recent world swimming championships.
Australian swimmers including Shayna Jack, Kaylee McKeown and Kyle Chalmers have all publicly thanked Rinehart for her support of their careers.
Tate said Rinehart’s commitment was a significant endorsement in the Gold Coast, which he said could host the Games again at a cost of just over $1 billion.
The Glitter Strip hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games and would have the facilities to hold the event just eight years later.
“Her statement sends a clear message: We must show what we are capable of as a country,” Tate said.
“The Aussie athletes deserve it, as does every young kid who dreams of representing their country.
“The momentum behind a 2026 Gold Coast Games is growing.”
“Every news poll has shown overwhelming support – and the irony is that we are not even asking for additional funds from the Federal Government; I simply want the Federal Treasurer to redirect the funds they had planned for Vic2026 to us.
“We will take it from there and I’m well advised that if we do manage to save the 2026 Games, the Commonwealth Games Federation may reconsider its legal action against the state of Victoria.
“That alone could save Victorian taxpayers up to $900 million in costs for the contract breach.”
Swimming Queensland boss Kev Hasemann said holding the Commonwealth Games in Australia was crucial to giving the next generation of local athletes a platform for their careers ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.
“The Commonwealth Games give Australia’s best swimmers a vital opportunity to hone their racing skills for the pinnacle events on the world stage: the World Aquatics Championships and the Olympic Games,” he said.
“Indeed, the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games was a precursor to Australia’s outstanding results in the pool at the Tokyo Olympics and the recently concluded World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, where our swimmers won 13 gold and a total of 25 medals.
“Their performance in Fukuoka has now placed Australia as the top swimming nation in the world, supplanting the hitherto invincible USA.
“The Commonwealth Games are a vital component of this process of renewal and have provided a golden pathway to the Olympics for so many of our great champions.
“Our own Ariarne Titmus, who launched her career on the Gold Coast in 2018, has led the charge from our champion swim team to resuscitate the Games and to provide not only that launching pad to the Olympics but the opportunity to enrich the lives of our youth and inspire our future champions.
“The Gold Coast can rescue the Commonwealth Games in 2026 and, like the Women’s FIFA World Cup, breathe life back into a multi-sport competition that has played such a major part in our sporting heritage.”
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