Vietnam says it will pull out of hosting the 2019 Asian Games because of economic pressures.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the announcement in a statement posted on the Government’s website.
He claimed the country will “quickly work” with the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to help it withdraw from staging the Games.
Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, was awarded the Games in November 2012, beating Surabaya in Indonesia by 29 votes to 14.
Citing “difficulties in the country’s socio-economic situation”, the statement said it would apply to host the Asian Games “at an appropriate time”.
Upon winning the right to stage the event, Vietnam Olympic Committee general secretary Hoang Vinh Giang said they hoped to put it on for between $150 (£89 million/€108 million) and $300 million (£178 million/€217 million).
A new airport terminal, highways and bridges, as well as sports facilities, were all part of Hanoi’s long-term development plans when it won the bid.
But a worsening economic climate in the country, combined with dwindling public enthusiasm for staging the Games, has led to Vietnam’s announcement.
When Hanoi won the bid, OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said Vietnam “has all the tools – a country with big potential and a booming economy”.
He added: “We have trust in their leaders, the Government of Vietnam, the city of Hanoi and the National Olympic Committee.”
The city hosted the 2003 Southeast Asian Games and the 2009 Asian Indoor Games.
The 2014 Asian Games is due to be hosted in Incheon, Souh Korea from September 19 to October 4.
In 2009, the OCA voted to shift the quadrennial event to the year before the Summer Olympics.
The 2019 Games, the 18th edition, were to include 36 sports, including the 28 featuring in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The OCA is currently unavailable for comment.
This article first appeared in www.insidethegames.biz and is reproduced with permission.