Andrew R.T Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, has labelled the decision of the Welsh Government to scrap plans to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games as “pathetic” and argues that Brexit has been used as “smokescreen”.
Welsh Economy Secretary Ken Skates ended hopes of a bid yesterday, specifically mentioning Brexit - the British public's referendum decision to leave the European Union last month - as a factor.
The Labour politician claimed “financial uncertainties” resulting from Brexit had made it “very difficult to justify a bid to host the Commonwealth Games at this time".
He also stated that analysis had been undertaken to review the potential advantages, benefits, risks and costs of a bid, which ultimately estimated the cost would be in the region of £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion/€1.5 billion) to £1.5 billion ($2 billion/€1.8 billion) to deliver a successful Games.
insidethegames understands Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) officials are surprised by the costs mentioned in the feasibility study.
Research carried out by Audit Scotland on Glasgow 2014 found that the Games had been delivered for just £543 million ($712 million/€648 million), while it was also £32 million ($42 million/€38 million) under budget.
Davies, who supported the campaign to leave the European Union and has since claimed Wales should embrace opportunities created by the decision, has slammed the Welsh Government for dropping the proposed bid.
“This is hugely disappointing, and it’s rather pathetic that the Welsh Government is once again attempting to use Brexit as a smokescreen to disguise a lack of ambition and imagination,” he said.
“Having jumped on the bandwagon of Welsh sporting success over the summer the Welsh Labour Government is now abandoning the stage.
“Welsh sport needs major competitions and stars for the future - not working groups.
“Clearly a bid would have come at great cost, but over the extended period the economic, social and sporting benefits to Wales would have been huge.
“This is a sad day for Welsh sport.”
It was claimed a review of sports facility provisions in the country would be carried out following the decision, 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.
Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, has also criticised the decision by highlighting how a bid had featured in the manifestos of all political parties in the country.
“I am disappointed that the 2026 bid has been shelved, after having worked closely with a number of sporting bodies in Wales and the Commonwealth Games Federation to facilitate and encourage a major bid," he said.
“There are of course uncertainties about the world post-Brexit, but the economic benefits of the Commonwealth Games are vast.
“I cannot overstate the value of Wales continuing to cement an international reputation for hosting and delivering sporting and cultural events.
“Now is the time to pursue the large economic prizes for Wales with the same spirit our footballers showed in the Euro 2016 tournament.
“The announcement today is all the more disappointing when the bid for the Commonwealth Games was only recently included in the manifestos of all political parties in Wales.”
Wales last hosted what was then called the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958, when they took place in Cardiff.
The news is 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.
However, he was replaced this month by Theresa May after the Brexit fall-out.