NT's Arafura Games cancelled due to COVID

·1-min read

The Northern Territory has cancelled its international multi-sport event for disabled and able-bodied athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biannual Arafura Games for athletes from across Asia and the Pacific was scheduled to run in late 2023.

But NT Major Events Minister Natasha Fyles says that's impossible due to border restrictions and the pandemic.

"Unfortunately, we cannot put a date on the end of COVID-19, which makes hosting international sporting events very difficult," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Sadly, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the event."

It's the second time the games have been cancelled in recent years due to the pandemic.

The 2021 games were cancelled in June 2020 with hopes they could recommence in 2023.

The week-long games were previously held in Darwin, with about 20 sports in multiple venues.

The popular event takes its name from the Arafura Sea, which lies between northern Australia and Southeast Asia.

Nations bordering the sea have largely formed the competitor base, but in 2019 athletes from the US, Europe and South America also competed.

The event was first held in 1991 and the last games were in 2019.

The Labor Gunner government brought the games back in 2019 after an eight-year pause due to budget constraints.

Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro says Mr Gunner is using COVID-19 as an excuse to cover up a broken election promise.

"Labor screamed from the rooftops about how important the Arafura Games were when they were in opposition," she said.

"Five years on and they've managed only one games. Cost is the real reason for scrapping the games, not COVID."

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