THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) On the eve of the inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan, the Netherlands on Wednesday pulled out of hosting the second edition of the multi-sport event in 2019.
The Dutch government said in a statement that there was insufficient support for funding the event, calling the 57.5 million euro ($65 million) price tag too high for local, provincial and national authorities.
The Dutch also questioned whether there would be enough top athletes at the games because sports including swimming and athletics already have European Championships that year.
The announcement came just two days before the opening of the first European Games in Baku, where athletes from 50 nations will compete in 20 sports.
The European Olympic Committees, which granted the Netherlands hosting rights last month, said it will now resume talks with five other potential hosts.
After being awarded hosting rights, the Dutch Olympic Committee said it would continue discussing its candidature with national and local authorities and would announce whether the bid had government backing around the time the inaugural edition of the games was staged.
The committee slammed national and local authorities for refusing to fund the event, accusing them in a statement of a ''lack of vision.''
The national Olympic committee and Dutch sports federation called it ''a major missed chance for the Netherlands to show how you can organize a big multi-sport event in an innovative way and on a normal scale spread across an entire country.''
EOC President Patrick Hickey said it was disappointing the Dutch would not host the second edition, but was upbeat about the games in Baku, saying he was confident they ''will be the ideal showcase for this new event and its long-term sporting, social and economic benefits.''
''I have no doubt that we will be able to present a strong host for the 2019 European Games,'' Hickey added, ''but right now our focus remains on ensuring this inaugural edition is the best possible launch pad for Europe's first continental games.''