(Reuters) - Tonga has withdrawn from hosting the 2019 Pacific Games over funding concerns, according to media reports.
The cost of organising large-scale multi-sports events has deterred bids from many prospective hosts in recent years and a spokesman for the Tongan cabinet told Kaniva News that President Akilisi Pohiva had decided against making the “costly mistake”.
Pohiva’s decision was influenced by a World Bank report that predicted Tonga would face economic difficulties if it staged the quadrennial games that was first held in Fiji in 1963.
The spokesman added that Tonga could not afford the massive maintenance cost of the infrastructure needed for the event.
“We cannot afford that large amount of money and we do not have the number of people and sport events to use these facilities from time to time to generate funds for the upkeep,” he was quoted as saying.
Pohiva said the previous government probably did not conduct extensive feasibility studies before agreeing to host the event.
Durban lost the rights to hosts the 2022 Commonwealth Games in March after Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the projected costs were more than the country’s flagging economy could afford.
The 2015 Pacific Games were held in Papua New Guinea and featured 3,700 athletes from 24 nations.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien