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Orkney has longed to host the International Island Games for many years. Having unsuccussfully made two bids to host the Games in the past, there was delight this weekend when Orkney was confirmed as the host for the 2023 Games.

13 sports will be contested between 8-14 July 2023, with an anticipated 2,500 visitors being attracted to the island for the duration of the Games.

the unanimous vote . . . was comforting recognition of the work we've all put in

I'm very pleased to have been able to be part of a fantastic team involved in preparing this bid, and to have had the opportunity to travel to Gibraltar as part of the presentation team to see it through to the vote.

The wide range of skills on our team enabled us to produce a robust bid which, International Island Games Association (IIGA) Vice Chair, James Johnston said during the AGM, contained a high level of detail which was "unlike anything [IIGA] have been presented with at this stage in the process in [his] time involved with the IIGA".

The fact that the presentation resulted in the unanimous vote from the 10 members of the IIGA Executive and the 24 voting islands was comforting recognition of the work we've all put in.

Some of the members of the bid committee (L to R): Calvin Cooper, Aly MacPhail, Beccy May, Fiona Dally (Event Scotland), Robbie Fraser
A few members of the bid committee, from left: Calvin Cooper, Aly MacPhail, Beccy May, Fiona Dally (EventScotland), Robbie Fraser

What about businesses in Orkney?

As would be expected from hosting a large multi-sport event, there are great participation, development and legacy opportunities for local sports. However, the opportunities will extend far beyond sport, and indeed will affect the economy at a much higher level.

For example, in addition to the existing restuarants, external caterers are likely to play a role in the provision of the catering solution. The accommodation model will be broad and diverse, and will include almost all imaginable options available in the islands. As has been the case with previous Games, 2023 might be the first visit to our islands for many of the competitors, but it probably wont be the last!

grasp the opportunity to tap into the resources which become available as a result of this positive vote

More funding to open up?

With an event of this scale now on the horizon, many businesses will rightly want to ensure that they are in a strong position to make the most of the travelling visitors, and to give the best impression of Orkney to our guests. Similarly, local clubs and associations will want to ensure that their facilities, equipment and personnel benefit from the availability of additional grant funding.

The potential opportunities for local skillsets and infrastructure are wide and varied. I personally hope that as many people as possible grasp the opportunity to tap into the resources which become available as a result of this positive vote, not just in 2023, but in each of the next 5 years leading up to the Games.

Let's enjoy it!

Reaching this stage has been the product of years of work from many people, many long discussions, and many late nights.

Of course, there will be more of those to come as Orkney works through the logistics of preparing to host the Games, but for now we're enjoying this moment of confirmation!

Signing the host island contract, from left: Robbie Fraser, Jorgen Pettersson (Chair, IIGA), James Johnston (Vice Chair, IIGA), Calvin Cooper, Alistair Buchan (Chief Executive, Orkney Islands Council)
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