July 3 - Auckland Mayor John Banks has backed away from comments over hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a goal dismissed as as unrealistic by his critics.

Banks had claimed that he was interested in investigating a potential bid from Auckland for 2020 despite having earlier this year abandoned a bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games due to a lack of infrastructure and funds and an estimated NZ$600 million loss (£277 million).

There are currently plans for Auckland to be transformed into a "supercity" of 1.4 million people uniting its four cities, three district councils and a regional authority and Banks had claimed that would make it easier to raise the money to finance the project.

Banks had said: "Can you imagine in our lifetime bringing the Olympic Games to the southwest Pacific, Auckland?
"How good would that be?"

But Banks has since refused all comment on the subject.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said the Olympics would cost billions and that's too much for a country of fewer than five million people.

He said Banks should focus on Auckland's priorities and not be sidetracked by pie in the sky ideas.

"We must not get sidetracked by pie in the sky ideas of grandeur such as hosting the Olympic Games when Auckland will have heavy demand on all available finances to deliver what is needed for the people of the Auckland region," Williams said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key revealed Banks raised the idea some time ago.

However, the spokesperson said at no stage had there been any meeting or Olympics proposal put to either the Prime Minister or Minister for Sport and Recreation.

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