The South African city of Durban may drop out of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games because of financial constraints. The city was awarded the Games in 2015 after Canadian city Edmonton dropped out of the running amid budget concerns related to dropping oil prices around the world. Durban remained as the only city to make a confirmed bid.
According to Reuters South Africa’s sports minister Fikile Mbalula said “we gave it our best but we can’t go beyond. If the country says we don’t have this money, we can’t”.
He said a final decision would be made by the Commonwealth Games Federation at a meeting in London on March 10.
The impending cost of the Games, estimated by Durban bid committee chief executive Tubby Reddy at $670 million, remains the problem. Reddy, who made his estimate in 2015, said Durban needed $470 million of that from the government.
The government had estimated the Games could generate up to $1.5 billion in economic benefit but Mbalula said the government had been forced to reconsider, adding “I don’t want to raise our expectations and say everything looks good.”
“It doesn’t because we don’t agree on the fundamentals and that is the operational budget.”
Following its widely praised staging of the 2010 soccer World Cup, South Africa was also viewed as a possible future host of the Olympics, with the Commonwealth Games seen as a stepping stone. But now a South African Olympic bid looks less and less likely any time soon.
Durban was elected as the first Commonwealth Games host in Africa.
Durban’s possible withdraw comes in the shadow of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) crisis where bid cities are dropping from the race, one-by-one as they lose confidence and support. Three of five cites including Hamburg, Rome – and just confirmed Wednesday – Budapest, have dropped out of the 2024 race leaving only Los Angeles and Paris to compete. Four of six candidates left the 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid before Beijing was elected in 2015.
Challenging recent Games in Rio and Sochi have demonstrated to many that staging them has become too costly and too risky.
Liverpool, England has now come forward as a possible replacement host for the Commonwealth Games. A spokesperson for the city council said, “Liverpool is interested in hosting the Games in 2022.”
“We had heard rumours 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.”
The Games were first staged in 1930 and are now held every four years featuring athletes from more than 50 countries, mostly former British colonies. The next Commonwealth Games are scheduled to be held in Gold Coast in Australia in 2018.