Auckland is abuzz for 10 days of competition and camaraderie for the World Masters Games.
Some 24,905 athletes from around the world have swarmed into New Zealand's biggest city, including 16,000 international arrivals from 100 countries, with the biggest contingent of 7000 Australians.
Organisers say that Auckland has been planning for four years and is ready to opens its arms to competitors from Australia, USA, Canada, Germany, Russia, Japan, and the United Kingdom to name a few.
Auckland will host 28 sports (45 disciplines) at 46 competition venues including golf, table tennis, marathon, hockey, softball and squash. Two venues in the nearby Waikato region will also host events.
The ages of those registered ranges from 25 to 101, the eldest being an athlete from India who will compete in track events.
WMG2017 Chief Executive Jennah Wootten says the number of registered supporters and officials takes total participation to 28,571.
"We are thrilled at the result and the overall response from master athletes here in New Zealand and around the world. This event is about bringing the world together 'for the love of sport' and these participation numbers bode well for a fantastic 10-day festival of sport," Ms Wootten says.
Organisers have also unveiled the medals to be presented at the Games with all three – gold, silver and bronze – carrying the unique takarangi (spiral) logo. The takarangi represents the movement of water and the connection between the northern and southern hemispheres, a nod to the coming together of athletes from all around the world for the event. The design also represents the connection of the Maori people of Auckland to the city’s three harbours – the Waitemata, Manukau and Kaipara.
The action won’t just be happening inside the venues as the City of Sails has an entertainment programme set to wow both the locals and internationals visitors.
The entertainment begins with a spectacular opening ceremony at Auckland’s legendary Eden Park – masterminded by the acclaimed New Zealand event producer, Mike Mizrahi and his partner Marie Adams. The opening ceremony will bring the unique culture of New Zealand to life in a show that will feature traditional Maori ceremony, cutting edge technology, live performances, and a tribute to the 28 sports of the Games.
The sounds of the Pacific and a little bit of homegrown country will be on show at the World Masters Games entertainment hub on Queens Wharf.
The festivities on the wharf start with a welcome weekend from Saturday, 22 April and conclude with the closing ceremony on Sunday, 30 April. The festival hub will provide free entertainment for everybody, children included.
For visitors to New Zealand arriving early or extending their stay the excitement doesn’t need to be constricted to The Games. Get some pre or post Games competition in at any one of the number of events happening around the country or get some rest and relaxation in at one of New Zealand’s many wellness offerings.
World Masters Games: Key facts and figures
Total number of participants registered - 27,058
Total number of athletes – 24,261
Total number of supporters and non-playing officials – 2797
Age of youngest competitor* – 25 years (swimming)
Age of oldest competitor* – 101 years (athletics)
Number of countries represented – 100
World Masters Games: Top participating nations
Australia - 6,966
Canada - 2,000
USA - 1,260
United Kingdom - 462
Russia - 447
Sweden - 430
Japan - 383
Finland - 323
Germany - 269
About World Masters Games 2017
The World Masters Games is the largest multi-sport event in the world. In terms of athlete numbers, it is bigger in scale than even the Olympics. Auckland will host the event from 21 to 30 April 2017 during which time 25,000 athletes will compete in 28 sports across 45 competition venues. The Games are regarded as the largest event New Zealand will host in at least the next decade.