With just 100 days to go until the World Masters Games in New Zealand, more than 15,000 athletes from 80 different countries have registered to compete.
Host city Auckland expects numbers to climb to 25,000 by the time World Masters Games (WMG) 2017 opens on 21 April. This is the first time New Zealand has hosted the world’s largest multi-sport event.
The largest contingent will come from Australia - expected to be around 6,000 - with Canada and the United States next in line for registration totals. So far, five of the 28 sports have sold out with another 10 almost at capacity.
Registrations will close on 3 March but some disciplines such as archery, golf, hockey, softball and squash have already reached capacity. Further sports, disciplines or events will also close early if they reach capacity ahead of 3 March. .
The ages of those registered ranges from 25 to 101, the eldest being an athlete from India who will compete in track events.
Sir Peter Snell
More than 6,000 New Zealanders have signed up and amongst the ex-Olympians, former world champions and amateurs is one of New Zealand’s most famous athletes, Sir Peter Snell.
The 77-year-old, named New Zealand’s ‘Sports Champion of the [20th] Century’, was best known as a middle-distance runner and won three gold medals in the 800m and 1500m at the Tokyo and Rome Olympics in the 1960s. Snell’s track days are over but he and his wife Miki will compete in table tennis at WMG2017.
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 opening ceremony will be held at Auckland’s Eden Park and International Masters Games Association CEO Jens Holm gave the city his seal of approval on a recent inspection. He said the IMGA had been impressed with all aspects from the competition venues to the planning and logistics. Athlete and volunteer recruitment was also on track, he said.
The IMGA was excited about what was planned for the Games Opening Ceremony and the Entertainment Hub on Queens Wharf, on the city’s waterfront. These would be special highlights for WMG2017 participants and stamp a uniquely New Zealand and Auckland mark on the international event, Holm said.
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.