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AIMS Games cancelled again

Organisers disappointed for everyone but set their sights on 2022

FOR the second year in a row, Covid-19 has thwarted plans to hold the Anchor AIMS Games, with the annual intermediate-aged sports tournament cancelled for 2021.

The week-long, Tauranga-based tournament was to have started on September 4 but the current nationwide Level 4 lockdown means there is no way it could safely continue.

“We are gutted for so many people — for the supporting schools, businesses, the incredible code-coordinators, the national sporting bodies, the supporters, and most of all, the athletes themselves,” tournament director Vicki Semple said.

“The sport coordinators have worked tirelessly for the best part of a year to build their teams and set things in place but our greater consideration is for the good of all New Zealanders and there’s no way we want to compromise or jeopardise our wider fight against Covid-19.”

For the tournament to go ahead, all of New Zealand needs to be at Level 1. Postponing is not an option, with 25,000 people to accommodate, 1800 officials to organise and 29 venues to be available at the same time. This year’s tournament again received more than 11,000 entries from around the country, from Taipa in Northland to Gore in Southland.

Semple knows many athletes will be devastated by the decision, but she has urged them to focus on the positives.

“It’s been extraordinary to see the overwhelming support from schools and communities this year, with many athletes fundraising and in training since the start of the year.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky to have six months without community spread of Covid-19, where our youth have been able to have relatively normal lives and experience all the good things about sport and activity, in the face of a global pandemic.

“We’re so proud the AIMS Games has given them hope, purpose and motivation, which no cancellation can take away.”

Semple has already received huge encouragement from principals and schools, who have had to juggle the expectation of students and parents with the realities of risk and welfare.

AIMS Games Trust chairperson and Otumoetai Intermediate principal Henk Popping said in many ways, this year’s decision was far easier to make than last year’s cancellation, which was made three months’ before the tournament was to have taken place.

“Going to Level 4 was an immediate indication of how seriously we needed to take this latest outbreak and we just need to put our faith in our health officials and political leaders who’ve navigated us through so far,” Popping said.

“It’s also a stark reminder that sport and recreation is a luxury — one that is incredibly important, of course, but it pales in comparison to the health concerns Covid-19 creates.”

Semple was confident the tournament still had a huge future role in New Zealand’s sporting environment, with sponsors and schools already pledging their support for the 2022 games.

running shoes on: Year 7 multisport competitors at the AIMS Games. Covid-19 has intervened again as organisers have been forced to cancel the Tauranga-based event for the second year. Bay of Plenty Times picture