Commonwealth Games cancellation shines spotlight on possible Alberta 2030 bid

Alberta Sports and Tourism Minister Joseph Schow says it's disappointing that the Australian state of Victoria is pulling out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games, but it won't stop Alberta exploring the possibility of hosting in 2030.

Australia's Victoria state pulls plug on hosting 2026 event after spiraling costs

Fireworks go off above a stadium at night.
Fireworks light up at Carrara Stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. On Monday, the state of Victoria announced it was withdrawing as host of the 2026 event due to rising costs. (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

Alberta's minister of sports and tourism says it's disappointing that the Australian state of Victoria is pulling out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games, but it won't stop Alberta exploring the possibility of hosting in 2030.

Joseph Schow made the comments Tuesday at a Calgary event after learning of Victoria's decision to step back from hosting the 2026 multi-sport event due to rising costs, from the equivalent of $2.4 billion Cdn to more than $6.3 billion.

Schow says any decision here will depend on the Games' economic feasibility.

"At the moment, there's no implication on our bid. It's certainly disappointing to hear the Games are going to be cancelled in Australia," he said.

Schow says any future decision will be about what's best for Alberta. That could even involve the possibility of a public referendum on the issue, although Schow says it's too early to say for sure.

"We're going to get all of the relevant information and make a decision based on that," said Schow.

Alberta's joint bid involves Calgary, Edmonton and the Tsuut'ina Nation, with $3 million in provincial and municipal funding having already been spent exploring the feasibility of hosting the event.

A man has a neutral expression while speaking in the Alberta legislature.
Sports and Tourism Minister Joseph Schow says hosting the Games has to be the right decision for taxpayers. (Legislative Assembly of Alberta)

Amanda Espinoza, executive director of operations with the Alberta 2030 Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, says news that the 2026 Games are in jeopardy won't impact the work being done in Alberta to see if the Games are a good fit for the province.

"We're having conversations with partners and citizens in the community and really trying to explore how this will benefit our communities and build those lasting legacies.… We're still looking at what that might look like, and having those conversations has been very positive. Lots of enthusiasm is what we're hearing," Espinoza said.

Espinoza points to the 1988 Winter Olympics and Alberta's legacy of hosting such events successfully in the past as one reason to keep exploring a Commonwealth bid. 

"We've delivered international events that have really put Alberta on the map, and what we're looking at is really renewing those benefits and seeing that legacy happen for our communities once more," she said.

Espinoza says strategic partnerships and cost efficiencies will be key in any decision.

"We want these Games to act as an economic catalyst for years to come. If partners think this can't be achieved, then we won't be submitting a bid."

"We're also really looking at community development, what the social benefits would be, how it could impact youth development and accessibility to recreation opportunities and getting that sense of renewed pride to show the world," she said.

Another big part in any bid would be Indigenous reconciliation and partnerships, reflecting Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, said Espinoza.

Canada is the only country currently exploring a bid for 2030.


Dan McGarvey


Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, using just an iPhone and mobile tech. His work is used by mobile journalism (mojo) trainers and educators around the world. Dan is largely focused on under-reported communities and issues in Calgary and southern Alberta. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at