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Organisers are hoping Dunedin’s biggest sporting event will continue to grow, despite Covid-19’s lingering impact.
New Zealand Masters Games manager Vicki Kestila said the event was hopeful of attracting about 5500 entrants for next year’s edition, to be held from February 5 to 13.
That would mark a rise on the 2020 Games held in Dunedin, which attracted just under 5000 people.
Registrations went live yesterday, as a virtual launch was held for the Games involving ambassadors Jodi Brown, Warren Lees and Neil Brew.
The Games are traditionally Dunedin’s biggest event from a participant perspective, and on average inject $3million to $5million into the city’s economy.
It was expected about half the entrants would come from outside the city, giving Dunedin a significant boost during that week.
Kestila said that even though Covid-19 was around, this year’s Games in Whanganui had a 14% increase in entrants.
She hoped Dunedin would get a 10% increase.
‘‘We’re pretty confident we will get that. People are ready to travel domestically, because at the moment they can’t get overseas and they’re looking for things to do in our own country, which is awesome for us.’’
Covid-19 was a factor in planning.
The last Dunedin Games were held just a week before the pandemic hit New Zealand in 2020. That meant this was the first time the virus had to be factored into the organisation.
‘‘We’ve assured our entrants that if we’re at any level other than 1, we won’t be able to go ahead,’’ Kestilla said.
‘‘But [we’re] also assuring all our sports have the Covid apps and all our inductions with our volunteers will be about not coming in if you’re unwell, get tested — just following health and safety guidelines.’’
Kestilla said being vaccinated was not a requirement at present, although if the Government changed its guidelines, the Games would adapt to fall in line.
The Otago Community Trust-sponsored Games involve about 65 sports.
New ones for next year included jigsaw puzzle racing, diving and cowboy action shooting.
Football was typically the most popular sport with about 800 competitors, followed closely by netball.
The Games were first held in Dunedin in 1992 and have alternated every other year with Whanganui since.
Each sport has a different minimum age competitors can be — the youngest being in their 20s.