Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman have today welcomed the World Masters Games 2017 to New Zealand.
The World Masters Games is the largest multi-sport event in the world, with New Zealand set to host 28 sports, 45 disciplines and more than 28,000 participants from 100 countries.
Under the Major Events Development Fund, the Government has invested $11 million into the event, making it the largest investment from the fund to date.
“The World Masters Games is the pinnacle sporting event for masters’ competitors worldwide. It’s the first time New Zealand has hosted the Games, offering a significant opportunity to showcase the country to thousands of athletes and spectators from across the world,” Mr Bridges says.
“We’ve invested in bringing this event to New Zealand for the strong economic and tourism benefits it will bring with the event forecast to generate 266,000 visitor nights and $52 million to national GDP. It is also a prime example of New Zealand’s ability to host major events such as these,” Mr Bridges says.
Participants range from masters sporting greats, former Olympic and Commonwealth Games medal winners, to amateur athletes and teams who compete in the event for fun, for their lifelong love of sport, and to experience new countries and cultures. The oldest competitor is 101 years old and the youngest 25 years old.
“In supporting the Olympic Games ethos of ‘sport for all’, the goal of the World Masters Games is to encourage participation in sport throughout life,” says Dr Coleman. “I’m sure the efforts and achievements of the competitors will inspire Kiwis around the country to continue with their sport or have another go at something they might have given up.”
Two of the philosophies of the Masters Games are to promote friendship and understanding, along with competition, between mature sports people regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or sport status. “This spirit is very much alive in New Zealand,” says Dr Coleman.