'Country' Victoria bids to host 2030 Commonwealths

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A series of 11 country towns across the Australian state of Victoria has launched what it says is a "revolutionary" bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2030.

The multi-sports Games for mostly former British colonies has traditionally been held by major metropolitan centers with Melbourne, New Delhi and Glasgow hosting the last three editions.

Australia's Gold Coast will break that tradition to some extent when it hosts the quadrennial event in the sprawling beachside metropolis next year but the 2030 bid spreads the event right across the state.

Led by Greater Shepparton City Council, a town of 63,000 some 200 kilometers north of Melbourne, the bid represents a "first of a kind vision" that could become the norm for future multi-sports gatherings, organizers said.

The South African city of Durban recently pulled out of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games because of the cost, reflecting a trend also seen in the Olympic movement.

"What we are unveiling today is ... blueprint for future major sporting events given the cost required and infrastructure needed to hold global competitions like the Commonwealth Games," Shepparton Mayor Dinny Adem said in a news release.

"Importantly, staging a ground-breaking concept such as this across regional cities and towns will leave a legacy for millions of people like we have never seen before.

"The economic and social impact will be so significant, not to mention the wave of optimism that would sweep the state."

Sydney hosted the Empire Games, the precursor to the Commonwealth Games, in Sydney in 1938 while Perth (1962), Brisbane (1982) and Melbourne (2006) have played host to the event in the post-Imperial era.

More than 70 countries and territories were represented by nearly 5,000 athletes at the last Games in Glasgow in 2014 with England topping the medals table head of Australia.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury)