Elizabeth Coutlee, a 51-year-old from Merritt, B.C., has travelled extensively to play softball.

In 2009, she had fun with women from Vancouver on a group in Sydney, Australia, at the World Masters Games, a multisport Olympics-style occasion targeted at amateur competitors, age 30 and older. In 2013, Ms. Coutlee used an indigenous group called the North American Native Sis at the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy.

Today, Ms. Coutlee is playing softball closer to house, in Vancouver at the Americas Masters Games, which started on the weekend and continue through to next Sunday.

It is the first time the Masters Games have been staged as a local event in the Americas. Ms. Coutlee is among about 5,000 professional athletes sporting their custom design basketball uniforms amongst other sport uniforms, from more than 50 nations, taking part in 24 sports. The $3.5-million occasion has to do with competitors and camaraderie– but for Vancouver, such occasions are a chance to boost the city’s tourist industry.

The Americas Masters Games belong to the technique behind Sport Hosting Vancouver, a brand-new group that was assembled to draw more sporting occasions to the city. Sport Hosting Vancouver is a partnership in between the city, a hotels’ association, B.C. Pavilion Corp., Tourist Vancouver and the University of British Columbia– investing about $3-million over 2 years, with $1-million originating from the city. The objective is to parlay success hosting such occasions as the Unique Olympics Canada 2014 summer seasons Games and part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 into more occasions and additional financial activity.

“Sports are an effective method to do that,” stated Ty Speer, CEO of Tourism Vancouver.

Mr. Speer formerly worked as an executive for the London 2012 Olympics, as well as for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 and in Glasgow in 2014. Mr. Speer stated Vancouver’s sports-tourism method has to do with little and manageable occasions.

“We’re not about overextending ourselves,” he stated.

The city and the province supplied about one-third of $3.5-million it costs to stage the Americas Masters Games. Roughly the exact same quantity is anticipated to come from entry costs: Individuals pay $215 to participate in a sport. Sport BC and numerous provincial sport companies are placing on the games.

Events occur all over the city. There is beach volleyball at Kitsilano Beach. Karate is happening at the convention centre downtown. Five-on-five basketball happens at gyms at UBC.

The City of Vancouver at first forecasted about 7,500 Masters Games individuals. Rob Newman, CEO of Sport BC, said the 5,000 athletes set to attend today is a strong number for an inaugural event and he expects it to recover cost. Half the guests are from outdoors B.C.

“It’s going to be really fun,” stated Mr. Newman. “It’s not just competitors. There’s the social side, too.”

The World Masters Games was founded in the mid-1990s and first staged in Toronto. Edmonton hosted the games in 2005 and drew about 20,000 people. Current hosts Sydney and Turin were former Olympics’ hosts, like Vancouver.

The Masters Games are backed by the International Masters Games Association, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, down the street from the head office of the International Olympic Committee. Former IOC member Kai Holm is president of the IMGA.

“It’s a celebration,” said Mr. Holm of the Masters Games, a time for everyone to come together in their favourite basketball team uniforms to support their teams.

The very first local occasion, the European Masters Games, was staged in Malmo, Sweden, in 2008. The IMGA approached the City of Vancouver about placing on the very first Americas Masters Games. (The 2nd Winter World Masters Games remained in Quebec City in early 2015 and drew 1,500.).

The average age of individuals is 49 and professional athletes typically travel with household, making it a holiday. There are differing levels of competition. Ms. Coutlee, the softball gamer, will play in the women’s leisure department, 40 and older. The Masters Games intends to supply an Olympics-like sheen: There are opening and closing events, and medal ceremonies, taking place in Vancouver at Jack Poole Plaza, adjacent to the convention centre.

When the occasion was revealed for Vancouver, in December, 2014, Mayor Gregor Robertson stated it “builds on Vancouver’s reputation as a terrific host city for significant sporting occasions”.

See more at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/americas-masters-games-in-vancouver-an-event-of-competition-and-tourism/article31589409/

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