Edmonton tonight withdrew its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games because of economic problems caused by the drop in worldwide oil prices, claiming that they wanted to focus on 2026 instead.

Since Edmonton announced its intention to bid the Alberta Government has seen their fiscal programme go from a CAD$500 million (£260 million/$397 million/€351 million) surplus to a CAD$7 billion (£3.5 billion/$5.5 billion/€5 billion) deficit due to world oil prices, Canadian officials said in a statement.

This drop will have significant impact on the economy, affecting most sectors throughout Alberta Province, they added.

The decision leaves Durban in South Africa as the only bidder for the Games, putting them in pole position to become the first city in Africa to host a major multi-sport event.

Edmonton had estimated that it would cost CAD$1 billion (£520 million/$795 million/€702 million) to host the Games, which it had last staged in 1978.

Of that, the City of Edmonton was expected to pay 20 per cent with Alberta making up the remaining $800 million (£417 million/$636 million/€562 million).

The decision to pull the plug was taken following a meeting involving City of Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Reg Milley, the President of Edmonton 2022.

They decided they could not continue to justify the bid, which was estimated to have cost CAD$7 million (£3.5 million/$5.5 million/€5 million), with half that amount coming from Alberta.

"In light of this, we determined that we could not in good conscious put forth our bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games," said Milley.

"We strongly believe in the values of the Commonwealth Games and all that they stand for.

"Which is why this has not been an easy decision for us, as our team has been working tirelessly these last months to put together an extraordinary bid.  

"But we believe that at this time it would not be right to move forward with our bid when cuts are being made in our communities to programmes like in education and health."

Edmonton 2022 notified the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) earlier today it would not be submitting a bid but is instead shifting its focus to 2026.

"We have spoken to the Commonwealth Games Federation CEO David Grevemberg and he expressed his disappointment that we are not proceeding with our bid, noting all the hard work that has gone into the Edmonton 2022 bid," said Richard Powers, President of Commonwealth Games Canada.

"He reaffirmed that the Federation was committed to working closely with us as we refocus our efforts to bring Games back to Canada in 2026."

The decision, which no-one had predicted, means Edmonton certainly lived up to its bid logo of "Expect Extraordinary".

They had been considered the clear front-runner to host the Games due to Durban's lack of activity and organisation since they launched their bid last March.

But, unless another city steps in at the last moment, which appears unlikely, the CGF will now have no choice but to turn to Africa for the first time since the Games was first held in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930.  

"We are obviously disappointed to hear Edmonton will not be part of the host city bidding process for the 2022 Commonwealth Games," said Grevemberg.

"The Edmonton bid team, in collaboration with their partners, has worked hard to lay the foundations of a great bid and we will work closely with them as they focus all efforts on bringing the Commonwealth Games back to Canada - where the Commonwealth Games first began - in 2026.

"We now look forward enthusiastically to working with the Durban 2022 Bid team and their partners through the evaluation process so, together as a Commonwealth sporting movement, we can realise the ambitions of delivering Africa's first Commonwealth Games."

The CGF is due to officially announce the host city for 2022 at its General Assembly in Auckland on September 2.

Edmonton had been in the final stages of putting together its final Bid Book which was due to be presented to the CGF at a special ceremony in London on March 2.

"We are of course very saddened by this decision, but we know that this is the right one for the future of our city, Province and country," said Simon Farbrother, the chief executive of Edmonton 2022.

"The Commonwealth Games have strong roots in Canada and we plan to be able to come back for the 2026 Games should the economic status allow.

"Of course, we are committed to supporting all sport events coming to our wonderful city and especially look forward to welcoming the FIFA Women's World Cup this summer."