Hamilton continues its reputation for inclusion and high-level sport, combining the two to bring the Special Olympics National Summer Games to the city in 2021.
Estimated to have a $3.4m impact for the city, Special Olympics New Zealand hopes to use the event not just for showcasing the best athletes, but also to drive conversation about inclusion for people with disabilities.
It is the first time the event has been held in Hamilton since 1993.
The announcement made on Tuesday at Claudelands Arena was a relief to Special Olympics NZ CEO Carolyn Young, who credited the Hamilton City Council for making a strong and positive bid to host the event.
"We are super excited. This has been under our hats for a while so it has been a big countdown to announcing today," Young said.
Now the hard work begins, with a little over two years for planning and logistics to be sorted, she said.
In total, the Summer Games will bring more than 3000 visitors to Hamilton with more than 1300 athletes taking part.
Waterworld and Porritt Stadium are two of the nine venues to host events when the three-day competition gets under way in the second week of December, 2021, with opening and closing ceremonies at Claudelands Arena.
"Hamilton has some fantastic facilities in terms of venues that are world class and having everything so closely connected is great," Young said.
New indoor venue The Peak will host basketball and the Waikato Equestrian Centre, home of Riding for the Disabled, serves as the venue for equestrian competition.
Accommodation at Wintec and the University of Waikato will house athletes and coaches, with the university also hosting weightlifting competition.
"We want to use this as a platform to talk a little more about the challenges for the disabled and how we need to be more inclusive as a country and a community to make sure we include people," Young said.
"Hosting such an event stretches beyond what the outcomes are in competition, with hopes that work towards a greater discussion surrounding inclusiveness will continue heading into and well after the event."
Hamilton Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor called the Summer Games one of the biggest multi-sport events in New Zealand, something that added to the already prestigious sporting history in the city.
"There's been a lot of work to happen in order to get this across the line.
"Our feeling is that Hamiltonians like to get involved and embrace things like this so we're pretty proud of this city and we'll be encouraging people to come along once again," Taylor said.
All events will be free to attend with more than 3000 people expected through the gates each day.
The budget to host the Summer Games exceeds $2m and planning processes take two years.
• Michael Pulman is a freelance journalist based in Hamilton and covers rugby, cricket and social issues.