The Gunner Government has permanently cancelled the Arafura Games, two years after committing to holding the event again despite a proper cost benefit analysis never having been released.
Tourism Minister Natasha Fyles announced the cancellation of the event this morning, citing uncertainty around international travel and “the implications of the global pandemic on our near neighbours”.
The government had last year delayed the event that was to occur this year to 2023.
“While it’s still two years away – our priority remains on keeping Territorians safe, and ensuring the community gets vaccinated,” Ms Fyles said.
“Unfortunately, we cannot put a date on the end of COVID-19, which makes hosting international sporting events such as this very difficult to plan for.”
The Arafura Games reportedly cost taxpayers $8 million in 2019. Ms Fyles told the ABC last year that the government had already spent $1 million planning for the 2021 games.
The government has never released a cost benefit analysis of the event or explained what economic impact the games had on the NT.
The games had relied on public servants and community members to volunteer to plan for almost 20 sports and also hired interstate marketing companies.
The games were previously described as “polarising”, with many concerned about the costs, but others feeling the games offered an opportunity to build relationships with nearby Asian nations through sport.
Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said it was the cost and not COVID-19 that led to the Gunner Government’s decision to end the games.
“Labor claimed the 2019 games cost taxpayers $8 million, but the true costs including flying participants to the Territory were never made public,” she said.
“The Labor Party delivered false hope to Territorians that the Arafura Games were viable and would remain.
“They have misled Territorians, who should be bitterly disappointed at this back-flip and deception.
“It’s bad enough they have broken another promise, but it’s made worse by the fact they hide behind COVID-19 rather than being honest with Territorians.”