Samuda backs move to put £100 million support offer on table as CGF scrambles to find host for 2026 edition; Malaysia, Singapore mull co-hosting

By March 19, 2024
SAMUDA...the delivery of the Commonwealth Games and others is a huge financial administrative and logistic undertaking. SAMUDA...the delivery of the Commonwealth Games and others is a huge financial administrative and logistic undertaking. file

Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Christopher Samuda has backed the decision of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) to offer Malaysia £100 million (US$130 million) to host the 2026 edition of the quadrennial international multi-sport event.

In fact, the £100 million offer is said to be one of "financial and strategic support" thrown out for any potential host, as the Commonwealth Games Federation is scrambling to find a host after the Australian state of Victoria abruptly pulled out in July last year, citing spiraling costs.

Victoria's sudden move and the lack of an obvious alternative triggered debate about the future of the Games, and it is for this reason why Samuda supports the offer as significant financial investment to support the delivery and legacy planning of the 2026 edition. The Commonwealth Games were last held in Birmingham in 2022.

“The significant investment offer to Malaysia to host the Commonwealth Games is an overture that I believe is being made after careful assessment by the Commonwealth Games Federation of Malaysia’s ability to deliver given the short timeline and, in view, understandably, of the urgency of which the federation needs to act. We know the ensuing days will no doubt witness hardnose negotiations to convince the Malaysian doubting Thomas’ that it will be a win-win situation,” Samuda told SportsMax.TV.

Malaysia last hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998, and given the huge success of that staging, the Southeast Asian country is seriously considering bringing the games back to its capital of Kuala Lumpur, as a final decision is to be made by the government.

“At the end of the day, Kuala Lumpur will receive value and it won’t be mired in debt. The economic and cost benefit value and commercialization are increasingly becoming determinants for cities considering hosting international games. This, as over and above the feel good and historic significance, government and business interest are becoming acutely aware that failure may place offices, careers livelihoods and reputations at risk,” Samuda noted.

Still, even if Malaysia accepts the offer to host, the possibility exists that it could be a scaled-down version, given the timeline. However, the London-based CGF suggested that another Southeast Asian nation, Singapore, are also assessing the feasibility of its invitation to host the games.

Singapore, which is aiming to host more large-scale sports events, hosts the Formula One night race annually, and will be hosting the World Aquatic Championships in 2025. It also hosted the 2010 edition of the Youth Olympic Games.

It has been reported that having both Malaysia and Singapore co-host the 2026 edition could be another possible outcome.

Samuda pointed out that the current situation highlights the difficulty the CGF, and others face where planning and organizing large-scale sporting events are concerned. But in the same breath, he also expressed confidence in CGF president Chris Jenkins and his team to get the job done.

“The delivery of the Commonwealth Games and others is a huge financial administrative and logistic undertaking which calls for, now more than ever, innovative and dynamic media broadcast arrangements, long-term partnership agreements, creative merchandising, robust fan engagement and bullish, but sensible ticket promotion and concession strategies,” Samuda shared.

“These are the critical bucket items of revenue and must be cemented cornerstones in business models for games going forward. No doubt the Commonwealth Games Federation is attuned, and the Chris Jenkins-led executive has the credentials to reach the finish line,” he noted.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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