A bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games from Melbourne and Victoria looks increasingly likely to be lodged ©Getty Images

Victoria in Australia could officially launch a bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games as early as this week, it has been claimed.

A state-wide bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games had been proposed but was put into cold storage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melbourne, which hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2006, had not been initially included in the plans but the city’s keenness to get involved has given the bid a massive turbo boost.

It led to it being revealed two weeks ago that plans to bid for the Games had now been accelerated with an opportunity to succeed Birmingham as hosts in four-years’ time.

Melbourne-based newspaper The Herald has reported that a decision has been taken to open formal discussions with the Commonwealth Games Federation, who have been desperately seeking a host for its flagship event and hope to name a host by the end of March.

"They’ve made up their minds, they just haven’t formalised the paperwork," one senior source told The Herald.

"But it looks like Victoria will bid."

A formal proposal is expected to be tabled once a financial analysis has been completed.

A KPMG analysis of Melbourne 2006 found the event prompted an increase in gross state product of about AUD$1.6 billion (£836 million/$1.2 billion/€1 billion) over a 20-year period and employment of about 13,600 jobs.

The event’s total bill was AUD$2.9 billion (£1.5 billion/$2 billion/€1.8 billion).

Melbourne hosted a successful Commonwealth Games in 2006 and there is a growing clamour for the city to lead a state-wide bid from Victoria for the 2026 event ©Getty Images
Melbourne hosted a successful Commonwealth Games in 2006 and there is a growing clamour for the city to lead a state-wide bid from Victoria for the 2026 event ©Getty Images

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp is among leading officials to have publicly backed the bid.

Felicia Mariani, the chief executive of the Victoria Tourism Industry Council, is another key figure to have come out in support of the Commonwealth Games returning to the state.

"Melbourne hosting another Commonwealth Games in 2026 is just what the city needs right now to rebuild our confidence and announce to the world that Melbourne is back," she told The Herald.

"While we need to ensure the numbers stack up, there’s no other destination in the country with the incredible sporting infrastructure already in place like Melbourne has.

"The fact that [last] Thursday we hosted an Asian Cup Qualifier literally across the road from the only Grand Slam tennis tournament in the southern hemisphere is testament to our pedigree in this area.

"The Victorian Government has also made significant investment in recent years to upgrade the quality of our regional sporting facilities, which means the benefits of hosting these Commonwealth Games would stretch to our key regional centres as well."

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra is another to have backed the bid.

"For Melbourne - and largely, Victoria - to land a global event with the prestige and excitement that the Commonwealth Games brings would be sensational for all facets of our local business, tourism and infrastructure," he told The Herald.

"The economic impact would be positively felt across the state, with regional participation being heavily considered, and I know Melburnians would love the opportunity to host and attend in our own backyard.

"Opportunities like this give us the platform to showcase our fantastic state to the rest of the globe, and also demonstrates our capabilities to continue hosting other major events."

Melbourne hosted a successful Australian Open and has a number of world-class sporting facilities ©Getty Images
Melbourne hosted a successful Australian Open and has a number of world-class sporting facilities ©Getty Images

Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat would host events, with others to be held in Shepparton, the Latrobe Valley, Bendigo and their surrounding areas, if successful.

"We support detailed consideration of a Victorian Government bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games," City of Greater Geelong Deputy Mayor Trent Sullivan said.

"The City of Greater Geelong has previously worked with other regional centres across Victoria to consider the feasibility of a 'fully regional' Commonwealth Games bid.

"Hosting competition across major regional centres, as well as Melbourne, would deliver a range of benefits for Geelong and the wider region.

"Geelong has a strong record of hosting world-class and elite competition across a range of sports involved in the Commonwealth Games.

"Our stadiums and facilities are suitable for sports such as cricket, rugby sevens, athletics, basketball, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, judo and table tennis.

"We also have the ability to host road cycling, triathlons and marathons."

Martine Letts, chief executive of The Committee for Melbourne, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting Australia’s biggest city, claimed that hosting the Commonwealth Games could function as a stimulus for helping Victoria recover from the coronavirus.

"We've got some extraordinary facilities, and I don't just mean on the sporting side but also everything else that Melbourne has to offer - events, arts and culture - all the things that we're well known for, that we're desperate to revive in a post-COVID situation," she told radio stations 3AW.

If Melbourne is selected to host the Games, it will be the sixth time they have been hosted in Australia in its 96-year history.

Besides Melbourne 2006, they have been staged in Sydney in 1938, Perth in 1962, Brisbane in 1982 and Gold Coast in 2018.