The Australian state of Victoria has withdrawn from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games as the cost of the event exceeded estimates by around A$5 billion.
Minister of State Daniel Andrews told the Melbourne media he was not prepared to spend up to $7 billion (£3.6 billion) on a “12-day sporting event”.
He said: “When the Commonwealth Games authorities reached out to us last year and needed someone to step in to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, we as a State were happy to help, but of course not at any cost.”
“I’ve made a lot of difficult decisions in this job, this one isn’t one of them.”
Mr Andrews said the games did not represent good value for money.
“It’s very obvious that we’re not going to spend $6 billion to $7 billion on a 12-day sporting event,” he said.
“We’re not just making popular decisions, we’re doing what’s right and what would just be wrong.”
The original budget for the games was estimated at around $2.6 billion (£1.3 billion), but this has almost tripled.
Mr Andrews said it had had “warm talks” with the Commonwealth authorities in London and would continue talks with them on Tuesday morning.
He said: “It is inappropriate and contrary to the interests of taxpayers that I am here today at a press conference to speculate and negotiate with people on the other side of the world.”
“In the meantime, let our team in London sort out these issues.”
Mr Andrews said the estimates were “well below actual costs”.
Instead, the Victorian State Government will use the budgeted money to improve sports facilities and housing in the Victoria region.
The 2026 Commonwealth Games were to be held in regional Victoria in cities such as Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Shepparton.
Following the announcement, Basil Zempilas, Mayor of Perth, Western Australia, called for the games to be moved to the city.
He tweeted: “COMMONWEALTH GAMES… It’s not often you get a second chance like this @CityofPerth.
“This is how it should work: We tell @thecgf how much we’re going to pay. We tell them, “Here are our venues.” They adapt YOUR games to what we have.
“Perth is in charge, they need us.”
Australia hosted the Gold Coast 2018 and Melbourne 2006 Games.
In 2017, Durban in South Africa was banned from the Games by the Commonwealth Games Federation after failing to deliver on promises made in its bid.