Economic opportunity lost as Anglesey withdraws from hosting ‘mini Olympics’
Anglesey has pulled out of hosting the Island Games “mini Olympics” in 2027 after the Welsh Government decided it couldn’t provide the extra funding that had been requested.
Inaugurated in 1985 as the Inter-Island Games, the most recent tournament took place in Guernsey in July 2023 with around 2,200 competitors from 24 islands or island groups from around the world participating in 14 sports. The next games will be hosted by Orkney in 2025.
In January 2023 Gareth Parry, the Island Games organiser for Anglesey, told BBC Wales: “We’re looking at around 4,000 athletes coming over from around 25 islands across the world. It’s quite a show.
“One of the main reasons to hold it here is for the people of the island to see exactly how big the games are and how lucky we are to be able to take part in something of this kind,” he said.
“The games are expected to benefit the island’s economy to the tune of around £5m, but there is also hope of long-term benefits.
“Anglesey Council has agreed to underwrite the costs of hosting the games,” said the deputy leader of the local authority, Carwyn Jones, who also sits on the games committee.
“There’s a lot of commitment but also a lot of excitement about what we can create here.
“It is going to be a significant sporting event of national importance for Wales, the biggest multi-sport event since the Commonwealth Games in 1958.
“We really hope to carry on with the football team’s ethos of carrying brand Wales all over the world.”
Mr Jones said over £2m had been invested in leisure facilities on the island, on 3G football pitches and squash and tennis courts.
“It’s a golden opportunity and a huge economic boost. Almost every spare bed on the island will be taken up by the teams or supporters, so in terms of the hospitality sector there will be significant spending.
“We think it will be a huge boost and hope of creating prosperity for local people and also long term friends coming back here to Anglesey too.”
In 2019 Plaid Cymru-led Anglesey council agreed to underwrite the cost of the Games on condition that the Welsh Government provided £400k match funding. The cost has risen since because of inflation.
Now Ynys Môn MS and Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has posted a message to Facebook that says: ‘It’s a big disappointment for those of us who have been trying to build the bid to bring the games to Anglesey that we’ve reached this point.
“We must thank Anglesey County Council and the Welsh Government for their willingness to support the games and thank everyone who has worked so hard over the years. The fact is that many factors ultimately worked against us, the biggest of which was undoubtedly Covid and the loss of momentum and time, and through that, the increasing costs.
“It had also become a concern that there was a question around how much central sponsorship would be offered to the games, and that risk was great. We must continue to work to ensure that we invest in sporting resources that are so important for the future of both the health and social lives of our communities here in Anglesey.
“We’ll look again for opportunities on how we can bring the Island Games here.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed in the joint decision to withdraw from hosting the 2027 Island Games.
The pressure on public sector finances means that we are not able to provide any additional funding at this time towards the increased costs of hosting the event, beyond the significant contribution already offered.
“It would be excellent to see the Games hosted in Ynys Môn and we would be happy to consider support for a bid to host a future edition of the Island Games, should public sector funding pressures ease.”
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