KAMLOOPS — Our city may have missed out on the 2020 Memorial Cup, but there’s an even bigger celebration of sport slated to take over the Tournament Capital in August of that year. The 2020 Canada 55+ games will welcome over athletes from all across the country who will compete in around 25 different sports.
The games themselves will be just one part of the event that has the potential to inject a significant amount of capital into the local economy.
Thursday morning at the Tournament Capital Centre, the flag for the 2020 Canada 55+ games was officially handed over to the City of Kamloops. While we’re still 22 months away from the games themselves, the ceremony marked the unofficial kickoff to the countdown until the games begin.
“We’ve got great facilities, we’ve got great volunteers and the word is out there across Canada that we’re ready to host and we’re open for business,” City of Kamloops Business and Events Operations Supervisor Sean Smith says.
It’s expected the games will attract around 2500 athletes who will compete in up to 23 different events in venues throughout the city. According to 55+ Games President Gordon Oates, historically these events are about more than just the competition.
“Competition certainly is one part of it, but there’s also the fellowship and camaraderie,” Oates explains. “These people are coming from all across Canada… and they come back as often as they can, depending on whether they qualify for the games, they’re anxious to meet new people and establish those connections with other parts of Canada.”
There’s also a long history of hosting multi-sport events in the city, dating back to the 1993 Canada Summer Games. Kamloops 2020 Board Chair Henry Pejril says that experience is one reason the city was chosen to host the Canada 55+ Games in two years time.
“A multi-sport game is very different than any major tournament or event,” Pejril says. “We’ve hosted many of them, and as you saw on our board, we’ve got people who have chaired the last four multi-sport games here.”
The last big multi-sport celebration the city played host to was in 2018 when the BC Winter Games were in town. In 2020, the athletes will be older than those who competed at those games, and will likely look to turn their competition experience into a holiday, which has the potential to give a significant boost to the tourism sector.
“The economic impact of this event is going to be massive for the local community,” Smith says. “They’re estimating anywhere from $2.5 - 3 million.”
“For Pejril, the event should be fun for the whole city.
“It’s going to turn into a - I don’t want to say. Well, I will - It’ll be a big party here for a couple of weeks built around that event, It’ll benefit everybody,” Pejril says.
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