World Masters Games sets foundation for future Commonwealth Games says organiser

Haere Mai Taiko Japanese drumming group performed at the World Masters Games closing ceremony, at The Cloud, Auckland on Sunday.  Photo /  Doug Sherring
Haere Mai Taiko Japanese drumming group performed at the World Masters Games closing ceremony, at The Cloud, Auckland on Sunday. Photo / Doug Sherring

World Masters Games 2017 has been heralded the most successful of the event's nine editions and has set a foundation for future Commonwealth Games in Auckland.

The 10-day multi-sport festival, which catered to 28,000 in 28 sports across 48 venues around Auckland and Cambridge, officially closed this evening.

International Masters Games Association president Kai Holm was glowing in his praise of the organisation.

"These Games have been run according to the professional standards we expected of Auckland and to this, we can add the warm kindness we received from our friends in this country," he said.

"Making these absolutely fantastic were the volunteers - these have been the best Games ever."

Those were the words WMG2017 chief executive Jennah Wootten was hoping to hear, having set a target of out-performing the 2009 Sydney Games, previously regarded as the benchmark.

"It's been an incredible week," she says. "We had really bold aspirations - we talked about 25,000 athletes and the desire to attract athletes from 100 different countries around the world.

"When you actually see those numbers happen and come to life, you see them coming through the airport and through the gates of Queen's Wharf, it's a pretty special feeling, having talked about it for four-and-a-half years.

And it strengthens her claim that Auckland and New Zealand were ready to host another Commonwealth Games in the near future.

"Quite frankly, I do think we're ready for that next challenge," says Wootten. "Who knows what it will be, but absolutely we should be thinking about Commonwealth Games and we should be preparing to have the discussion around 2026.

"New Zealand has done a really good job of showing it can deliver single-discipline major sporting events, but we've shown over the past nine days that we can do multi-sport, we can do multi-venue, we can handle the logistics and we can handle complexity."

WMG2017 Auckland organisers formally passed the torch to Japan's Kansai Province, which will hat the next event in 2021.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman tonight congratulated organisers and participants on the outstanding success, saying the games is the largest major event New Zealand has hosted since the Rugby World Cup 2011.

"Hosting major events in New Zealand provides a welcome boost to our economy. With the majority of the events based in Auckland, it is estimated that the games have contributed 244,000 visitor nights and added $30.8 million to Auckland's GDP.

"Further to this it is estimated that the games have contributed $53 million to GDP and a 266,000 visitor nights to the wider New Zealand economy.

Coleman said the games has been "without a doubt" a massive celebration in active participation and sportsmanship.

"This event shows that it is never too late to be a competitive athlete. The participants have made a significant contribution towards the Games 'sport for all' philosophy."

He said it was a great way to showcase New Zealand to the rest of the world and many of the participants have extended their stay to sample Kiwi hospitality and iconic sights.

- NZ Herald

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