By Nick Carne
The “student Olympics” return to Adelaide in December and one of the biggest winners won’t be on the track or in the pool – our State’s economy will again get a significant boost from hosting the Pacific School Games.
The highly successful 2015 event, which attracted competitors and officials from 10 countries, generated $13.6 million in direct benefit to South Australia, and that looks certain to be repeated.
More than 4,000 students (with parents and officials boosting the numbers to around 10,000) will fly in to compete over eight days at venues around Adelaide. It is the first time the same city has been successful in bidding to host successive Games.
This year’s sports will be basketball, diving, football, goalball (for the vision impaired), golf, hockey, netball, softball, swimming, touch football and track & field. However, Graeme Jennings, the President of School Sport Australia, says it’s not just about sporting competition.
“Students, their families and officials will have an opportunity to participate in a range of other events including the Opening Ceremony, which was attended by over 13,000 people in 2015, a variety of educational excursions and receptions,” he said.
The official Games Village at the University of Adelaide will include dining, entertainment and interactive opportunities each evening, as well as a trade display.
Mr Jennings said support from the South Australian Tourism Commission had been important in developing a new format for the event.
The first Games were held in Brisbane in 1982 in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games. Australian competitors over the years have included future Olympic champions such as Ian Thorpe, Cathy Freeman, Steve Hooker and South Australia’s Kyle Chalmers. Other teams have come from as far afield as China, Fiji, Cambodia and Pakistan.
Visitors attending sporting and other mass participation events are an increasingly important part of the State’s visitor economy, which grew by 14% to $6.2 billion in the year to the end of last September. The national average was 5.9% growth.