When the world's largest multi-sport event comes knocking on Waikato's door next year, it will bring with it statistics likely to out-shoot even the Olympics.

When the world's largest multi-sport event comes knocking on Waikato's door next year, it will bring with it statistics likely to out-shoot even the Olympics.


The 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland and the Waikato next April will see 25,000 athletes from over 100 countries competing across 28 sports in more than 45 competition venues.


That, says the event's chief executive Jennah Wootten, is more than double the number of athletes competing in the Summer Olympics.


"Border control have said to us that with the athletes coming from 100 countries, the number of visas they will need to process is likely to be the greatest in New Zealand history," she said.


Those athletes' average age will be 42, with the youngest 25 and the oldest entered so far sitting at 97. Several athletes in their early 100s are also expected to attend, and some 4000 volunteers will be involved.


Between the participants, their support crews and families, the event is expected to inject a whopping $52 million into the national economy, and $4.5 million into this region.


Ways to capitalise on that potential was the topic-de-jour for around 100 stakeholders at Thursday's Waipa District Council stakeholders' breakfast meeting at Cambridge's Don Rowlands Centre. The Waipa on the World Stage gathering was addressed by World Masters Games 2017 chairman Sir John Wells, chief executive Jennah Wootten, Waipa District Mayor Jim Mylchreest and others.


New Zealand won the bid against 15 other countries to host the games.


Sir John Wells said the country was very fortunate to have been awarded the event after a very competitive bidding process.


"Part of the reason we achieved it was that we are known to have a good understanding and knowledge of running these events," he said, citing World Cup rugby and cricket events, and the "outstanding" 2010 World Cup Rowing.


He said those planning the 2017 Masters Games had determined that New Zealand was well-placed to "set the benchmark higher" after seeing first-hand the poor running, and "sub-standard facilities" at the 2013 World Masters Games in Torino, Italy.


Wells also said that the world-class facilities around rowing and cycling in Cambridge had helped inform the decision to extend the 2017 event out of Auckland into the Waikato.


Auckland has put $11 million into hosting the budgeted $24 million for the event, he said. The Government has put in an additional $11 million, leaving $12 million yet to be raised.


"We are well on our way to achieving that," he said, "and I commend Auckland – who put up $11 million – for bringing the event to the Waikato."


Wells also commended former Waipa District Mayor Alan Livingston, who had played a pivotal role in winning the games for New Zealand when leading WDC three years ago.


Another keynote speaker was Michael Stechman, manager of Marketview.


He offered figures to substantiate the positive financial input into the region resulting from major sporting events during 2015, and said the hospitality and accommodation sectors in particular were poised to make significant gains from the World Masters Games.


Wootten said research showed some 54 per cent of international audiences at major sporting events took a holiday in the host country either before or after the event.


"We will have about 1500 athletes down here in Waipa – the trick will be to keep them here for that holiday," she said.

Graeme Osborne, chairman of Hamilton & Waikato Tourism, said the event offered huge opportunities to put "more resources and vigour" into boosting the number of international tourists to Waipa.


Waipa District Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the Games would be a "phenomenal event" with enormous flow-on events for the region.


Stuff - Viv Posselt


Image - Viv Posselt/Fairfax NZ

Talking up the value to Waikato of the 2017 World Masters Games were, from left, Waipa District Mayor Jim Mylchreest, Marketview manager Michael Stechman, World Masters Games 2017 chairman Sir John Wells and chief executive Jennah Wootten, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism chairman Graeme Osborne, and Johnson Raumati, kaumatua from Ngati Koroki Kahukura.

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