ONE of Tamworth's most financially lucrative sporting events has become the latest cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Primary Games has been abandoned because of the state government restrictions surrounding public gatherings.
The annual event, hosted by the Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS), brings an estimated $2.3 million to the Tamworth economy every year and at least 2000 children.
NIAS chief executive officer (CEO) James Cooper told the Leader the decision to cancel this year's event was "a tough call" to make.
"We have sent some information to all of the teams [on Wednesday] and told them, while it was a difficult decision for us, given the fact there is so much uncertainty around sport, we feel it is the right decision," Cooper said.
"Our goals were to match last year's numbers, which were around 2500 participants and we initially thought the numbers would take a hit due to the pandemic.
"As the restrictions tightened on us, it just got to the point where it was not in our best interest to run it this year."
This year's event was set to attract participants from across NSW and into Queensland.
"We already had registrations for this year from down near Sydney, the south coast and confirmation of teams from up to Brisbane that were coming back from last year," Cooper said.
"For us, the most pleasing thing is when I sent the email out to all teams confirming the event had been cancelled, my inbox has been filled with responses.
"Most of those responses have been people saying it was disappointing but it was the right decision and they can't wait to come back to Tamworth in 2021."
While the event has been cancelled, the CEO said NIAS was doing all it could to keep its regional programs going.
"We are in a bit of a unique position at the moment," he said.
"There probably is a couple of programs that won't get up this year, because we are unsure what a rugby league or rugby program might look like.
"However, we also have time now to plan strategically for what our business looks like as we transition into what our new normal is going to be."