THE FUTURE OF MASTERS GAMES: Implications for policy and research
The World Masters Games (WMG) saw their debut in Toronto in 1985, with 8,305 participants from 61 countries participating in 22 types of sport (Kavanagh et al., 1988a; Kavanagh et al., 1988b; Shephard et al., 1995). Other cities have subsequently hosted the WMG at three-to four-year intervals, with attendance apparently depending in part on the choice of venue (see Chapter 1). The most popular meets to date have been in Brisbane (1994: 24,500 participants from 74 countries competing in 30 disciplines) and Melbourne (2002: 24,886 participants from 98 countries competing in 26 disciplines). Sydney (2009) hopes for a similar interest, with some 30,000 from 100 countries competing in 15 core and 13 optional disciplines. These numbers are quite large in comparison with the Beijing Olympics of 2008 (10,500 athletes participating in 28 sports) and the Beijing Paralympics (4,200 participants in 20 sports). One of the main differences between these events and the WMG is a somewhat smaller international involvement in the WMG (around 100 nations, compared with the 205 nations involved in the Olympics and 148 nations in the Paralympics of 2008). Nevertheless, the WMG is a well-established phenomenon, and its future poses some significant problems for the academic community in terms of both social policy and research priorities.