The New Zealand Masters Games in Whanganui has the green light. A date has been set for next year and it is hoped a focus on domestic travel post-Covid-19 will be a boost for the event.
Experienced sportswoman and administrator Rachel O'Connor was announced as games manager in February with Sport Whanganui confirmed as the lead agent for 2021 and future years.
The Masters Games is New Zealand's longest-running multi-sports event, with over 30 years of competition.
Next year's games will run from February 5-14.
Whanganui (New Zealand) Masters Games Trust chairman Leighton Toy said Covid-19 had affected and challenged New Zealanders in unprecedented ways and the games would provide the opportunity for people to reconnect with friends and focus competitive spirit.
"We recognise that people want to connect again and participate in activities they have a passion for. The New Zealand Masters Games in Whanganui is the perfect event and location to do just that.
"Everyone is working hard to get the event ready for launch."
The 2019 games had a 3.2 per cent drop in participants after a huge effort to turn around the event on its 30th anniversary.
It also made a loss of around $20,000, but the event put an estimated $2.9 million into the local economy.
Organisers expect more participants at next year's games and visitors to avail themselves of the unique opportunities Whanganui has to offer.
O'Connor said the games will be a driver for Whanganui community connection, and an opportunity to extend the Whanganui region's famed hospitality to visitors from all over New Zealand.
"The New Zealand Masters Games is vital for our community, now more than ever. The benefits are significant and will have a positive impact on Whanganui's economy, support our local sports clubs, and boost the wellbeing of our participants from near and far," she said.
"Our partners and stakeholders have been extremely supportive through these trying times and we look forward to delivering the event in 2021."
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said he was optimistic that the model for the games was a good one.
"I have visited the Dunedin Masters Games twice and I was pleased to see they had followed Whanganui's example of moving the village into the city centre.
"The consumer spending in Whanganui last year was very encouraging and I even met an out-of-town visitor who bought new whiteware while he was here."
McDouall said the council was optimistic the games in Whanganui would benefit from the push for domestic travel and that sports fans unable to go to overseas events will find it an attractive alternative.
The Masters Games is 49 per cent owned by the Whanganui District Council and hosted in Whanganui every two years. Dunedin hosts it on alternate years.