On January 30, Blaine Higgs, premier of New Brunswick, announced the cancellation of the province’s commitment to host the next Francophone Games in 2021. The estimated cost of hosting the Games had ballooned from $17 million to $130 million after New Brunswick was selected as the next host by l’Organisation internationale de la francophonie, and it was no longer financially viable for the province to carry out its hosting duties in Moncton-Dieppe as planned.
The event, which is held every four years in the year after the summer Olympic games and which involves 10 days of cultural activities as well as competition in eight different sports, would have seen 3,000 participants including athletes from more than 50 French-speaking countries. The Games are open to all Canadians regardless of their spoken language. The most recent Games were held in the Ivory Coast, and previously they have been held in Morocco, France, Madagascar, Ottawa, Niger and Lebanon.
The province blamed the federal government for reneging on its commitment to matching provincial funding, but insiders defended the decision, claiming the province had not presented a viable plan.
Though the Games are expected to generate $140 million in economic benefit for the host city, many have questioned this figure. A December 15 CBC report mentioned that the governing organization did not require a complete business plan as part of the bid. An executive director, Eric Larocque, was hired in 2016 to develop the plan and a committee was formed in 2017.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented that New Brunswick’s decision to scuttle the Games was “unfortunate.”
The city of Sherbrooke, Quebec submitted a $50 million bid. It may still be possible for the Games to be rescued if a host with a viable plan is found.