In light of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic both the Alice Springs Masters Games and Arafura Games have been deferred until 2022 and 2023 respectively.
Both multi-sport events take years of careful planning, and uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic make it impossible to arrange either event to a satisfactory level in order to deliver quality community events.
The Alice Springs Masters Games, scheduled for October 2020, and the Arafura Games, scheduled for May 2021, rely heavily on the participation of interstate and international athletes.
Although border restrictions are easing in Australia, there remains no guarantee participants will be willing or able to travel for either event.
30% of Alice Springs Masters Games participants fall into the vulnerable age category for COVID-19, while the majority of Arafura Games participants come from overseas, which remains a significant unknown.
Both sports require immediate and significant financial commitments in order for either event to be conducted at their scheduled times, which represents an unacceptable level of risk of previously committed taxpayer funds.
As stated by Natasha Fyles, Minister for the Arafura Games:
“We are the Government who brought back the Arafura Games in 2019 after an eight year hiatus with great success and with huge benefit to the Northern Territory community.
“To say we are disappointed to have had to make this decision is an understatement, but we’re committed to the Arafura Games and under a Territory Labor Government we will see them return in 2023.
“Throughout this public health emergency we’ve been unable to predict the Games’ future in any capacity.
“While I hope in 11 months’ time we will have well and truly adjusted to our ‘new normal’ with little to no further spread of COVID-19, there remains too many unknowns to commit to an Arafura Games in 2021.”
As stated by Lauren Moss, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture:
“Uncertainty around travel and border restrictions, the potential health risks to competitors and their willingness or ability to travel to compete has meant planning for the 2020 Alice Springs Masters Games is very difficult.
“One sport has already pulled out of this year’s event, and several others have acknowledged they are facing considerable difficulties as a result of COVID-19 on their day to day operations.
“We are unable to guarantee a 2020 Masters Games to the standard of previous years, and we can’t risk sports and individuals investing time and money in an event that either can’t go ahead or does not meet expectations – so deferring the Games makes sense.
“We recognise the benefits the much-loved Masters Games bring to the Alice region, and will be working hard to bring them back bigger and better than ever in 2022.”