The City of Montreal has cancelled the 2017 World Police and Fire Games after several unions have said they intend to boycott the event.
"We're cancelling the games when that shouldn't be the case," Mayor Denis Coderre told Radio-Canada. "There are men and women who have contributed and for them these games are important."
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A growing number of police and firefighter unions worldwide have declared support for their Montreal counterparts, who are engaged in a labour dispute with the city.
Unions representing Montreal police and firefighters have been asking other unions to join their boycott of the Games to pressure the city to back down from a planned pension reform.
"The reality is we pulled the plug because of them," Coderre said. "They wanted it. They tried to boycott it — tough luck."
The Games, which are held every two years, were expected to attract more than 10,000 participants from around the world, and were to be held as part of Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations.
"For the firefighters of Montreal such an outcome was unavoidable due to the increased national and international support for the boycott of the Games," the Montreal firefighters union — the Association des Pompiers de Montréal — said in a news release Saturday.
The union added that it was "not without a heavy heart" that they learned of the Games' cancellation.
The dispute with the city had not only garnered attention from other unions from Canada, the United States and Australia, but also a promise to boycott the games.
Earlier this week, the Canadian Police Association announced it was withdrawing from the event.
Last month the Fire Brigade Employees' Union in Sydney, Australia, and the Fire and Rescue New South Wales Sports Association also said they wouldn't be making the trip to Montreal.
Search for new host city underway
Danièle Sauvageau, president of the Games, said she is in discussion with Toronto to see if that city can take over hosting duties.
She said she hopes they'll be able to find a solution.
"Obviously it's sad that Montreal cannot host the games. But there are discussions taking place right now with the City of Toronto," she said in an interview with Radio-Canada.