Edmonton last night withdrew its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games because of economic problems caused by the drop in worldwide oil prices, claiming that they wanted to focus on 2026 instead.
The decision leaves Durban in South Africa as the only bidder for the Games, putting them in pole position to become the first city in Africa to host a major multi-sport event.
The decision to pull the plug was taken following a meeting involving City of Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Reg Milley, the President of Edmonton 2022.
They decided they could not continue to justify the bid, which was estimated to have cost CAD$7 million (£3.5 million/$5.5 million/€5 million), with half that amount coming from Alberta.
“In light of this, we determined that we could not in good conscious put forth our bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games,” said Milley.
“We strongly believe in the values of the Commonwealth Games and all that they stand for.
“Which is why this has not been an easy decision for us, as our team has been working tirelessly these last months to put together an extraordinary bid.
“But we believe that at this time it would not be right to move forward with our bid when cuts are being made in our communities to programmes like in education and health.”
Unless another city steps in at the last moment, which appears unlikely, the CGF will now have no choice but to turn to Africa for the first time since the Games was first held in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930.
“We now look forward enthusiastically to working with the Durban 2022 Bid team and their partners through the evaluation process so, together as a Commonwealth sporting movement, we can realise the ambitions of delivering Africa’s first Commonwealth Games.”
The CGF is due to officially announce the host city for 2022 at its General Assembly in Auckland on September 2.
In 2014 Durban was thrust into the international spotlight following their impressive and professional presentation to the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in Glasgow on Monday. The South African Minister of Sport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, along with the SASCOC president, Mr Gideon Sam, the SASCOC chief executive officer, Mr Tubby Reddy, and head of sport for the City of Durban, Mr Vuzi Mazibuko, produced a slick presentation.
South Africa’s ability and proven track record in hosting major events – amongst them the football, rugby and cricket World Cups – was a strong theme of the presentation, as was the fact that sport is a powerful tool in uniting the country and that Africa is yet to stage a Commonwealth Games.
Now only time will tell whether Durban will play host to this prestigious multi-sport event… lets all hold thumbs!