(Reuters) - The Canadian city of Edmonton has withdrawn its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games over economic concerns in the wake of a drop in worldwide oil prices, officials said on Tuesday.
The decision, which comes weeks ahead of the March deadline to submit bids, leaves South Africa's Durban as the only other city vying to host the multi-sports event.
"We are of course very saddened by this decision, but we know that this is the right one for the future of our city, province and country," Simon Farbrother, chief executive of the Edmonton bid committee, said in a statement.
"The Commonwealth Games have strong roots in Canada and we plan to be able to come back for the 2026 Games should the economic status allow."
The Commonwealth Games are held every four years and feature athletes from over 50 countries. The next event will be held on Australia's Gold Coast in 2018.
The host site for the 2022 Commonwealth Games is scheduled to be made in September.
Edmonton has already hosted the Games once before, in 1978, while Canada also hosted the inaugural Games in 1930 (Hamilton) as well as 1954 (Vancouver) and 1994 (Victoria).
According to officials, the Alberta government has seen its fiscal programme drop to a $7 billion (£4.5 billion) deficit from a $500 million surplus due to oil prices since Edmonton announced its intention to bid last year.
The bid committee also said the drop in the price of oil, a major Canadian export, will have a significant impact on the economy, affecting most sectors throughout the province.
"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," said Bid Chairman Reg Milley.
"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.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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