The South African city of Durban may give up its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
On Tuesday, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said that the country does not have the resources to host the games, citing financial constraints.
“We gave it our best shot, but we can’t go beyond. If the country says we don’t have this money, we can’t,” Mbalula told Reuters.
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The minister said a final decision will be made in the coming days by the Commonwealth Games Federation. Meanwhile, local media reports that South African President Jacob Zuma is now scheduled to meet the chairperson of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Louise Martin, to discuss the hosting of the 2022 games.
In September 2015, Durban was awarded the hosting rights of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, after the only other contender, the Canadian city of Edmonton, withdrew its bid.
The 2022 event was to be the first held in Africa.
In 2010, South Africa also became the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup.
A government estimate said the games could generate up to 20 billion rand ($1.5 bn; £1.2bn) for the local economy.
“I don’t want to raise your expectations and say everything looks good; it doesn’t because we don’t agree on the fundamentals and that is the operational budget,” Mbalula told a media briefing.
If South Africa surrenders its bid, it will continue the recent trend of cities shying away from hosting global sporting events, including both the Summer and Winter Olympics, over budgetary concerns.
Only last December, South African officials assured the public that the country remained “fully committed” to hosting the event.
The combination of a global fall in the price of commodities and a sluggish local economy has affected the South African government’s revenue. In addition, the country is yet to fulfill many of the requirements for hosting the games.
Talks of Durban surrendering its hosting rights has sparked interests from the city of Liverpool, England, which had earlier indicated its willingness in hosting the 2026 Games.
“Liverpool is interested in hosting the games in 2022. We had heard rumors that Durban might be unable to deliver the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and have already indicated to the government that we are very willing to host them instead,” a spokesman for Liverpool city council said in a statement.
The Commonwealth Games are held every four years. They feature athletes from more than 50 countries around the world, most of them former British colonies, including the U.K., India, Canada, about a dozen or more African countries and several more from the Caribbean.