Economic recovery has legs: How Cairns plans to fight back
THE Far North is set to host more than 5000 athletes in May and June with two signature events attracting record entries as the region regains its place as a premier event destination.
The Great Barrier Reef Masters Games, to be held from May 20 to 23, has attracted more than 1800 competitors to date while the 10th annual Cairns Airport Asia Pacific Ironman championship in June is a sellout with more than 3500 competitors expected to line up.
Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning said it was great to see world class athletes flocking to compete in Ironman.
"We've come out of the worst 12 months of our lives, and to use a cricketing reference, this is like we've just knocked a dozen sixes in a couple of overs," he said.
"This year, more than ever, Ironman Cairns will be something to celebrate."
Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the council was working closely with organisers to explore ways to increase flow-on benefits from the event.
Cairns Airport chief executive Richard Barker said the event was an important feature on the Far North calendar, driving widespread visitation to the region with competitors and their supporters arriving.
Ironman Group Oceania regional director Rob Stalling said the event was a favourite among athletes.
"Last year Ironman Cairns was the first Ironman event in the world to take place after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and we know that many athletes weren't able to make the journey," he said.
"The 2021 Ironman Cairns is set to be one of the largest we've had, which is incredible when you think that international borders remain largely closed and more than a third of our athletes normally come from outside Australia."
Entries for the Masters Games are expected to continue streaming in. New Zealand golfers jumped at the chance to participate, registering as soon as the trans-Tasman bubble was announced.
Early bird registrations were extended to April 18 after the federal government announced its half-price flights package, and organisers expect another influx of entries.
Sports on the Masters Games program include archery, track and field athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, cricket, cycling, duathlon, golf, hockey, judo, netball, rugby league, softball, swimming, target pistol shooting, tennis, and trail and road running.
Olympic gold medal winning beach volleyball player Natalie Cook is guest speaker at the inaugural Great Barrier Reef Masters Games Sportsperson's Dinner on May 21.
Great Barrier Reef Masters Games
Asia Pacific IronmanChampionships
Originally published as Economic recovery has legs: How Cairns plans to fight back