Wales will not bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games after the country’s Government ruled that the cost of hosting and the financial uncertainty created by Brexit made it “difficult to justify".
A potential bid had received cross-party support from British Members of Parliament (MPs) during a debate in the House of Commons in Westminster during March.
MPs and key officials involved in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games then held a meeting to establish what was needed to launch a successful bid.
An economic study was commissioned following the success of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years ago, but Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones warned the cost was "too prohibitive" because the British Government would not provide any financial support.
Backing appeared to have risen since then, with support for the idea from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru political parties.
Welsh Economy Secretary Ken Skates has now poured cold water on a proposed bid, specifically mentioning Brexit - the British public's referendum decision to leave the European Union last month - as a factor.
“My officials have produced a summary of the detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis that has been undertaken to review the potential advantages, benefits, risks and costs that might reasonably be expected to result from holding the Games,” Skates wrote in a letter.
“In that context we considered a variety of delivery models to try to help ensure the benefits of a Games would be spread across Wales.
“The work that has been undertaken shows that to prepare for, and successfully deliver, a Games would cost in the region of £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion/€1.5 billion) to £1.5 billion ($2 billion/€1.8 billion).
“It is clear that bidding for and delivering the 2026 Commonwealth Games would be one of the biggest undertakings we have ever made, with the financial commitment stretching over three Assembly terms.
“Taking into account of the wider priorities and the financial uncertainties resulting from the UK referendum decision to leave the European Union it was a very difficult to justify a bid to host the Commonwealth Games at this time.”
insidethegames understands Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) officials are surprised by the costs mentioned in the feasibility study.
A study carried out by Audit Scotland of Glasgow 2014 found that the Games had been delivered for just £543 million ($712 million/€648 million).
Glasgow 2014, the most recent edition to be held, were also found to be £32 million ($42 million/€38 million) under budget.
Skates claimed that he would prioritise a review of sports facility provisions in the country to ensure Wales are in a position to stage major sporting events, as well as attempting to boost the number of young people taking part in sport.
Various major sporting events have been held in Wales in recent times, including the International Paralympic Committee Athletics European Championships in Swansea in 2014.
The country are set to host the UEFA Champions League final in capital Cardiff in 2017.
Wales last hosted what was then called the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958, when they took place in Cardiff.
“Naturally we are disappointed to hear of the Welsh Government’s decision not to support a bid for Wales to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games,” said Helen Phillips, chair of Commonwealth Games Wales' Board.
“Wales is a proud sporting nation and I'm sure would have got fully behind a bid but due to economic uncertainty we understand that now may not be the right time.
"We very much welcome the Welsh Government's commitment to improving sports facilities across Wales and to look at delivery options for future bidding cycles.
“We were encouraged by the cross-party support for the ambition to consider a bid and we will continue to work with the Government and others to look at the possibility of Wales bidding for a future Games."
The news will be a blow to the CGF who awarded the 2022 Commonwealth Games to Durban after what ended as a one-horse race.
The South African city was the sole bidder following the withdrawal of Canadian city Edmonton due to falling oil prices.
Edmonton has vowed to instead focus on the 2026 edition, for which another possible contender is Port Moresby, the Papua New Guinea capital which hosted last year's Pacific Games.
An English bid is also considered a possibility.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson promised to continue with a manifesto pledge to launch a bid after being re-elected as the city’s Mayor in May.
Birmingham has been touted as another contender, with former British Prime Minister David Cameron promising the Government would support whichever British city bids.
He was replaced this month by Theresa May, however, after he had backed a campaign for Britain not to leave the European Union.
CGF chief executive David Grevemberg has expressed his disappointment that a Welsh bid will not materialise but claimed the organisation are enthusiastic regarding other Commonwealth cities.
"We are obviously disappointed to hear Wales will not be putting itself forward to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games when the bid process commences in 2019,” Grevemberg said.
“Commonwealth Games Wales, in collaboration with its Government partners, has worked hard to lay the foundations of a dynamic, innovative and inclusive Games proposition and we will continue to work closely with them to support their efforts to bring the Commonwealth Games back to Wales in the future.
“We now look forward enthusiastically to working with other Commonwealth cities and partners over the next three years as part of the lead up to the 2026 bidding process.”