Masters Games aims for big return in 2022

The New Zealand Masters Games is back next year and is aiming for more competitors and more action.

The Games are shared between Whanganui and Dunedin, each centre holding the event in alternative years.

The event took place in Whanganui in late February and was a success, with more entrants and people active in getting out and competing.

John Brimble.
John Brimble.
Sport Otago chief executive John Brimble has taken over as chairman of the Dunedin Masters Games Trust and was keen for the Games to continue to be a success.

The event is set to take place on February 5-13 next year in Dunedin.

Brimble has been involved with the event since it first started, helping to negotiate the Dunedin City Council becoming in key shareholder in the games. That was done with John Bezett, who went on for a long stint as chairman, and Dunedin mayor Richard Walls.

Brimble than took a break from the trust, but had been back for the past 10 years helping out.

Bezett had retired as chairman; now Brimble has taken over, and said he saw the enormous benefits of the games.

"It caters for the middle-aged people right through to those who are active in their 60s and 70s who still want to be active and be competitive."

He said as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic a lot of older people wanted to get out and get active again.

Numbers went up for the Whanganui games this year as it drew more people from within the central North Island and the Auckland area.

Brimble said games organisers would try to attract people from the rest of the South Island and also the North Island.

"It is a bit of sports tourism. Get people to see the countryside and Dunedin and get them to play some sport at the same time."

At this stage no overseas competitors were expected to be able to come to the event. About 200-250 competitors usually came from overseas, most of those Australians, and some may be able to enter via the transtasman bubble.

With more than 60 sports on offer, with competitors ranging in age from 20 to triple digits, the Masters Games truly has something for everyone, Brimble said.

Masters Games manager Vicki Kestila said her team is actively preparing to build on the success of 2020.

“Our participation in 2020 saw 4785 people compete in the Games — this was a 6% increase on the previous event in 2018. In 2022 we are targeting a 10% increase,” she said.

It is estimated the games generates $3.2million in direct expenditure for Dunedin with 56% of participants coming from out of Dunedin and staying an average 3.8 nights.

The games in 2020 in Dunedin took place in February and was not impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The games have retained Otago Community Trust as its naming sponsor.

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