Island Games return after four years
Four years have gone by since the last Island Games, hosted in Gibraltar in 2019.
A global pandemic, travel restrictions and an uncertain future saw the 2021 Games postponed, with Guernsey, this year’s host, having to wait until this weekend to open its doors to the over 2,000 sports people attending the games.
Twenty-four Islands, including Gibraltar will be taking part in the Guernsey 2023 Island Games. Debuting will be the Island of Gozo who were recently accepted into the International Islands Games Association.
This evening, Saturday July 8, sees the opening ceremony of the Games in Guernsey. It will mark the end of a four year wait for the Games to return, the longest period seen since the Games were inaugurated in 1985.
Initially launched as the Inter-Island Games, as part of the Isle of Man International Year of Sport, and intended to be a one-off sporting event. With just fifteen islands and 600 competitors and officials taking part the Games at the time cost a mere £70,000.
A far cry from the figures now estimated for hosting the games. With close to 3,000 competitors and officials, the Island Games in Guernsey will see a total of 14 sports taking place across 25 venues.
Archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, bowls, cycling, football, golf, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and triathlon will all fill on packed schedule across seven days of activities.
The opening ceremony will take place this evening along the Town seafront and is being described by organisers as “a heart-pumping, music-filled spectacle. One of the highlights will the parade of the 2,194 athletes from North Beach to the Albert Pier.”
Sports people will have travelled from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic to the Caribbean to compete in the Games which have now become one of the main international competitions for some of those participating.
“Samba, bagpipes, a big band, cheerleaders, majorettes, and a vintage Guernsey tractor, are all part of the line-up for the opening ceremony of the NatWest International Island Games along the Town seafront” said organisers this week as the final preparations were being made.
Organisers “promising a music-filled, heart-pumping spectacle that showcases island pride and friendliness.”
The highlights will include the water ceremony at North Beach, and the parade of around 2,500 athletes and team members from North Beach to the Crown Pier.
For athletes it will be the green light they have been waiting for four years to compete in the Games. Many starting early on Sunday morning as the main sports events start to roll out.
Team Gibraltar will be in action from the start with a full schedule for a bulk of the team now in Guernsey.