The Northern Territory government has cancelled the Arafura Games, saying the coronavirus pandemic made it “impossible” to plan for the major 2023 event.
- The 2023 Arafura Games have been called off and all future editions cancelled
- The games draw athletes from dozens of countries to Darwin for a multi-day event
- It’s unclear how much money had been spent planning the 2023 event
The biennial international sporting contest was last held in 2019, drawing hundreds of athletes from more than 40 countries, as well as nearly 1,000 Australians, to a nine-day event in Darwin.
The 2021 event was last year pushed back to 2023 because of international travel restrictions.
However, Major Events Minister Natasha Fyles today announced the games would be scrapped in 2023 and beyond.
“We just could not continue the planning,” she said.
“We were getting to the point where we needed to sign off on significant contracts and plans going forward and it wasn’t fair.
A cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the NT government found the 2019 games generated $7.1 million in visitor spending, but cost $7.2 million to hold.
However, Ms Fyles said the cost of hosting the games was not the reason they were being discontinued.
She could not specify how much money had already been spent on planning for the cancelled event or its postponement last year, but said the allocated budget would likely be spent on other tourism drawcards.
“These big multi-sport events are going to be a challenge and that’s why we’ve not only deferred but we’ve cancelled the games going forward,” she said.
“I certainly believe in major events, and particularly sporting events and the tourism that they can drive, so we’ll now re-pivot the thoughts around that.”