Australia’s Gold Coast has scrapped its last-ditch bid to hold the 2026 Commonwealth Games, leaving the event in limbo as organisers race to find a willing host.

The Australian state of Victoria was originally slated to host the Games, but unexpectedly pulled out in July this year citing an eye-watering cost blowout.

The Gold Coast, a beachside city of some 600,000 people in Queensland, offered to step in – but only in the unlikely event the federal government helped foot the bill.

With officials unimpressed by the idea, mayor Tom Tate said his bid to rescue the Games was over.

“We did our best and that’s all people can expect,” he said in a statement to Australian media on Sunday night.

“Sadly, at the same time, our country’s reputation as a place that reneges on a global sports contract remains in tatters.”

Commonwealth Games officials said last month they were working under tight timeframes to find a replacement, and would prefer to keep the event in Australia.

There was a possibility the delay would push the Games out to 2027, Commonwealth Games Federation boss Katie Sadleir said at the time.

The federation has previously said it was “hugely disappointed” by Victoria’s shock decision to pull out.

“We are disappointed that we were only given eight hours’ notice and that no consideration was given to discussing the situation to jointly find solutions prior to this decision being reached by the government,” organisers said in July.

Increasingly struggling for relevance – and with fewer countries interested in hosting the event – the long-term fate of the Games remains uncertain.

Canada’s Alberta province withdrew its support for a possible bid to host the 2030 edition weeks after the Victoria announcement.

The event typically attracts more than 4,000 athletes from the 54 nations of the Commonwealth, almost all of which are former territories of the British Empire.

The last Games, in 2022, were held in England after Birmingham stepped in at the last minute.