LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Lauren Moss, Minister for Tourism, and Sport made an announcement this morning that the 2022 Alice Springs Masters Games will be cancelled and rescheduled for 2023.
This came as a surprise and shock to many but was not unexpected for me given that we were already so far behind in our planning and preparation schedule for the games.
Normally registrations will open on the date one year before the games are due. To get to this point, each sport is required to engage in a lot of planning and preparation – fee structures, budgets, event schedule, plus other formal documents need to be addressed by the clubs.
Given none of this has happened, it was pretty obvious to me what the decision was going to be.
And we can only surmise why we have arrived at this point.
The Minister cited two main reasons for deciding not to go ahead with the 2022 Games (as compared to Red Centre Nats and Parrtjima).
The first was the uncertainty about Covid and it particular its impact on team sports.
I don’t understand this reason – already two other Masters Games events are scheduled for 2022 – The Australian Masters Games in Perth (23 – 30 April) and the SA Masters Games (7 – 11 April). The Australian Masters Games were scheduled for October 2021, but because of the WA State borders being closed, they were postponed to April 2022.
Obviously both these States do not share the same view about the Covid risks as the NT Government. They haven’t had the concerns about getting sponsorships as the Minister raised. In 12 months’ time we are all going to be living with Covid, so surely we must start making decisions with that knowledge and certainty.
Another reason the Minister referred to was we now have the chance to revitalise the games.
Well we have already done planning for that. 12 months ago after the 2020 Games were cancelled a workshop was scheduled precisely for that reason. A lady from interstate was contracted to facilitate the process. Each sport gave input and a workshop was held. Great ideas were presented and a report was prepared. Not sure what happened to that?
The biggest concern I have is it will be five years between Games if they are held in 2023.
We miss a golden opportunity by now holding them in 2022 as we are told that when borders are open and Covid restrictions eased, then local tourism will boom. People will not be travelling overseas as in the past.
Potentially a 2022 ASMG could have seen participant numbers reaching levels we haven’t seen in many years. Now that is an opportunity wasted.
Another issue is that by moving to 2023, we will be in direct opposition to the Australian Masters Games – a multi-sport and team structure like the ASMG but with over twice as many participants.
These Games in 2023 will be held in South Australia and you would expect they will be very appealing to many who might also be thinking about Alice Springs. Certainly they will be cheaper and easier to access.
Up to now these two major Masters Games events have not directly competed against each other because they have been held in different years. I wonder what the Minister is thinking after 2023.
Do we then revert to the even years (2024) or stay in the odd years which have been the domain of the Australian Masters Games.
If we chose 2024, then that would mean two ASMG in two years which will be very difficult because holding the ASMG requires enormous volunteer support.
So in my mind this decision (to postpone the ASMG to 2023) has been made without a full awareness of many important matters that impact on the Games. There is a very real likelihood it is a decision that will lead to the gradual fading away of the ASMG.
Certainly it is going to take a lot of Government money in promotion and administrative support to make up for this unnecessary pushing of the Games back to 2023.
John Bermingham, Sports Coordinator Road and XC ASMG 2012 – 2018.
UPDATED 2.30pm: Independent Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley, says if if the games proceed in 2023 it will be five years since the last were held in Alice Springs. This is not good enough.
Alice people are now feeling the effects of a Darwin-centric Government that is in debt up to their eyeballs. No National Aboriginal Art Gallery. No Masters Games.
This is a lethal blow to an already struggling tourism industry in Central Australia, says Ms Lambley.