Key points

  • Victoria is hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
  • A delegation of at least 26 people has travelled to Birmingham to prepare.

A troupe of Victorians have flown to Britain to watch the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and take part in its closing ceremony ahead of the 2026 Games in Melbourne and regional centres around the state.

Jeroen Weimar, the chief executive of the organising committee for the Victorian Games, was among more than two dozen people to make the journey at an as-yet undisclosed cost to Victorian taxpayers.

Jeroen Weimar, chief executive of the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.Credit:Eddie Jim

The formal delegation includes 10 people. Governor Linda Dessau and another three people from her office have also travelled to Birmingham, along with six Indigenous representatives.

Six police officers and delegates from Visit Victoria and Global Victoria are also attending.

The Birmingham Commonwealth Games opened on Thursday and will run until August 8, with 430 athletes from Australia competing.

A government spokeswoman said representatives of Victoria, the next hosts of the Commonwealth Games in 2026, would be taking part in the closing ceremony.

“The Commonwealth Games will deliver major benefits to regional Victoria, and we look forward to the best of Victoria being showcased to the world at the Birmingham closing ceremony,” a government spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for Victoria Police said the six officers attending would participate in the long-standing Commonwealth Games police observer program. The officers will shadow the West Midlands Police in Birmingham and then lead the force’s plans for the 2026 Games.

“The program provides first-hand insight into the planning and delivery of this major security operation,” the spokesman said. “It will assist with planning and management of Victoria Police’s role in the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.”

Weimar, formerly Victoria’s COVID-19 commander, will outline plans for the 2026 event to the general assembly of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

The travel costs of Victoria’s delegation will be declared once the figures have been finalised.

Martin Pakula, formerly the tourism and trade minister, visited Britain, Denmark and Italy during a 10-day trip in March to lock in Victoria as the next host of the Games. According to a travel report – filed with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions in June – Pakula travelled with one ministerial staff member.

The pair spent $22,107 on air fares, $4850 on accommodation and $5163 on other expenses, for a total cost of $32,120.

Pakula also discussed trade with commissioners, ambassadors and government officials on the trip, and investment opportunities with European companies.

Dessau and the Australian Commonwealth Games president Ben Houston also travelled to the UK in March.

As the host of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Queensland spent $668,000 on travel in 2017-2018, including $85,776 on visiting Birmingham to transfer knowledge after the event, according to the Courier Mail.

The Queensland government also sent two people overseas to dress up in the koala suit of the Gold Coast Games mascot Borobi.

The Victorian government expects the Games to bring in more than $3 billion to the state economy, creating 600 full-time jobs before, 3900 jobs during and another 3000 after the 2026 closing ceremony.

Victoria’s organising committee already has 35.8 dedicated full-time equivalent staff, four years before the games begin. The Office of the Commonwealth Games within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions also has 35 full-time workers.

The department has also signed a $650,000 contract to construct a space at its Exhibition Street office for Commonwealth Games coordination.

None of the councils hosting the Games, such as Geelong or Latrobe, sent a delegate to Birmingham.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in Politics

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article