Orkney confirmed as host of the 2023 Island Games

Orkney will host the 2023 Island Games after all 24 member islands of the International Games Association (IIGA) voted unanimously to award them the event following a successful presentation by the Orkney Games 2023 Bid Committee at the IIGA AGM in Gibraltar on Saturday (7 July) on their proposals for hosting the multi-sport event in five years’ time.

Securing the Island Games in 2023 is a fantastic achievement and testament to the hard work by the Bid Committee, which included representatives from the Orkney Island Games Association, Orkney Islands Council and EventScotland, on behalf of Scottish Government, as well as local sports associations and the wider community over the last two years.

After a highly successful site visit to Orkney by an IIGA delegation in November last year, Orkney was well-placed and the decision at the IIGA AGM will see the Games return to Scotland for the first time since Shetland hosted the event in 2005.

Jörgen Pettersson, Chairman of the International Island Games Association, said: “Congratulations to Orkney, one of our founding member islands! Ever since the start of the IIGA in 1985 Orkney has enthusiastically taken part in the NatWest International Island Games. Orkney will be the twelfth host island of the Games that brings islands and islanders together in friendly competition.

Liam McArthur MSP, Orkney 2023 Bid Chairman, said: “I’m delighted that Orkney has been selected by the IIGA to host these highly prestigious Games in 2023. This is a fantastic achievement and I am confident that Orkney will put on a high quality Games to remember in five years’ time. 

“I want to pay particular tribute to all those who played their part in enabling the Bid Committee to put forward such a strong set of proposals.  The support of Orkney Islands Council and the Scottish Government has been invaluable, while the enthusiastic engagement from local sports groups, community councils and the wider community in Orkney shone through in the proposals we were able to present.

“That community involvement will remain critical as the hard work now begins in earnest. Orkney has all the attributes to be the perfect host for these Games and I would encourage anyone interested in getting involved to contact the Orkney Islands Games Association.”

The event is expected to attract up to 2,000 visitors to the islands as well as providing a number of job opportunities for locals, including up to three full-time positions available in the run up to the Games as part of the event’s organising team.

The Island Games 2023 will also be a chance to celebrate the best of Orkney through its place, produce and people as well as providing opportunities to create a lasting sporting legacy for the islands, whether through participation or the development of coaching and other supporting roles.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said: “Hosting the 2023 Island Games is a fantastic opportunity for Orkney and the whole of Scotland to deliver another memorable, world-class multi-sport event, while enabling local and international audiences to experience what our diverse country has to offer.

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government was able to join other partners in pledging our support, contributing up to £500,000 towards the delivery of the Games.

“I commend everyone involved for their hard work in securing this incredible opportunity. While further promoting Scotland as a perfect stage for international events, the Games will also contribute to boosting the local economy, promoting job opportunities and creating a lasting sporting legacy for the islands.”

Harvey Johnston, Convener of Orkney Islands Council, said: “Orkney Islands Council is delighted to have supported the bid committee in their plan to secure the Island Games for Orkney in 2023 and congratulate the team on their success in Gibraltar this weekend.

“Orkney’s hosting of the Games in five years’ time offers a wealth of opportunities for our island communities whether that be our sporting stars or our accommodation and hospitality providers. Orcadians are passionate about sporting competition and the Island Games – we’ve been a permanent presence at the Games since they began and it’s been a long term aspiration to bring the games here.

“Our friendly, hard-working and determined community were placed right at the heart of the bid and they will be crucial to the success of the Games. I look forward to seeing our community come together to provide a fantastic Orkney welcome and stage a memorable games for 2023.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We’re delighted Orkney has been awarded the Island Games 2023. This is an excellent result following the hard work by the bid committee to secure this prestigious international event for the islands and Scotland.

“Events play a vital role in our visitor economy and EventScotland is committed to supporting the delivery of a diverse portfolio of events that not only showcase Scotland as the perfect stage for events but also bring strong economic and social benefits to all regions across the country. The Island Games will certainly do this for Orkney and we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with everyone as our focus now turns to bringing the island communities together in 2023 and delivering the best Island Games ever.”

A total of 13 sports - Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Clay Shooting, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Lawn Bowls, Road Cycling, Sailing, Squash, Swimming and Triathlon – will feature at the 2023 edition of the Games.

Held every two years, the Games brings together the 24 member islands of the IIGA to compete in friendly competition. Orkney has been a member of the International Island Games Association since its inception in 1985 and for a number of years has had aspirations to host the Games.

Work will now commence on establishing the organising committee for the Orkney Island Games 2023. Further details about this will be announced in due course.

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