The IMGA is hopeful that Rio de Janeiro may be able to stage the Pan American Masters Games in 2028 ©IMGA

The delayed Pan American Masters Games due to be held in Rio de Janeiro have been cancelled amid COVID-19 and economic concerns in Brazil.

The multi-sport event was originally due to take place in 2020, but the pandemic led to it being delayed until later this year.

However, the International Masters Games Association (IMGA) has announced that Games have been cancelled, citing "the pandemic and the economic strain that follows".

Brazil has been one of the world’s worst affected countries by COVID-19.

It is one of only three countries which has recorded more than 30 million confirmed cases of the virus, and its official death toll of more than 666,000 is the second worst in the world.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been an outspoken COVID-19 and vaccine-sceptic since the beginning of the pandemic, and has regularly downplayed the threat posed by the virus.

Inflation and fuel prices have soared in Brazil, and opinion polls suggest that the right-wing leader is likely to lose October’s election as he seeks a second term.

Rio de Janeiro held the Olympic Games in 2016, and the IMGA is hopeful that it can stage the 2028 edition of the Pan American Masters Games.

"The IMGA still believes Rio would be an ideal host to organise the Games," it said.

Brazil has been one of the countries worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images
Brazil has been one of the countries worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images

"Therefore, we are working with the Organising Committee to see if we can find a solution for 2028 to bring the Masters community together in this vibrant city destination."

Cleveland in the United States is due to stage the next edition of the Pan American Masters Games from July 12 to 23 2024, which the IMGA has now turned its attention to.

"These Games promise to be a spectacular celebration of sport, fun and friendships in the beautiful Great Lakes region, situated on the Southern shore of Lake Erie," the IMGA claimed.

"Together with the Cleveland Organising Committee we are preparing for an amazing event where Masters athletes will be able to compete, and share their passion for an active and healthy lifestyle, with other like-minded adults."

The minimum age for competitors at Masters Games events varies, with the lowest being 25.

As well as continental Games, the IMGA organises the World Masters Games and the Winter World Masters Games.

The World Masters Games was scheduled to take place this month in Kansai, but the event was postponed for a second time due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Japan.