In the summer of 2023, the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland will host the XX Island Games – this is the Olympics for athletes who represent not countries, but islands, and compete with the same “surrounded by water” rivals. However, the intensity of the struggle here is in no way inferior to real Olympiads – moreover, many Olympians started their careers here.
We recall how the first Island Games were held: one team swam 8,000 km to participate, and the newspapers called that tournament a “little Olympics”
The history of the Island Games begins with the Isle of Man.
It is located in the Irish Sea and is part of the UK. In the mid-80s, they were preparing to celebrate the “Year of Sports” here, and the local parliament came up with the idea of holding a sports tournament between the nearest islands. The search for participants and discussion of the details took a couple of years, and in 1985 the first Games took place.
Teams arrived in Maine from 15 nearby islands, but there were also participants from afar – from St. Helena from the South Atlantic, for example. Until 2016, the island did not have a runway, so the athletes sailed 8,000 kilometers by ship to Maine.
For the islands, the Games were a new event, so the newspapers shone with loud headlines: “One giant step”, “A dream comes true”, “A small Olympics on small islands”.
But before the Olympics, the first Games were still far away. The budget of the event was only 70 thousand pounds, and the sports infrastructure was at the amateur level. For example, athletics competitions were held on grass (now athletes run on synthetic turf).
The first Games were recognized as successful, so the organizers created the Island Games Association. The first executive committee (elected for two years) included representatives of the participating countries. They decided to hold the Games every two years, any island located near Europe can send an application for participation. In 1998, the British bank NatWest became a sponsor. It still remains the title sponsor of the Island Games: the last agreement was signed in 2021, and it is valid until 2026. So the finances of the tournament are definitely in order.
Now 24 countries participate in the Island Games. The mission of the tournament is to increase the prestige of even the smallest islands
By 2022, the Island Games have grown significantly. The tournament is still held every year (only 2021 was missed due to the pandemic), and the number of participating athletes has grown to 2-3 thousand in one draw. The Association has 24 permanent members, but from time to time new countries visit the tournament. The islands are very different, there are both very small (Sark, whose population is less than a thousand people), and giants – there are more than 80 thousand inhabitants on the Isle of Man.
By the way, the football team of the Faroe Islands does not participate in the main island tournament. It is considered too strong: the Faroe Islands easily won the football tournament of the Games in 1989 and 1991 and calmed down on this.
Most often, the Games are held on islands in Europe, but there was an exception: in 2013, the tournament was hosted by Bermuda. It turned out so-so. Due to the long distances, some participants had problems with logistics. Even Rhodes, one of the luminaries of the Games, missed the competition. The men’s basketball tournament consisted of four matches between the same teams: Bermuda and Saaremaa (Bermuda won all matches). The football tournament also turned out to be strange: all the British Isles refused to participate, so the hosts, the Greenland team, the Falkland Islands and the Norwegians from the island of Froya played.
Since then, the organizers have tried not to experiment. In 2017, the Games were held on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, and in 2019, in Gibraltar.
Future Olympians used the Island Games to prepare for more serious competition. But in Moscow today, residential projects are being created in such sports locations and with such infrastructure, where any child or adult can start their career in sports or simply keep in good shape in comfort. For example, in the Russian capital, future residents will be able to organize their own competitions or grow champions“Islands” from Donstroyin the Mnevnikovskaya floodplain.
The developer is building a residential complex in a truly unique location in Moscow. This is a full-fledged island, which is located on the territory, surrounded on three sides by the Moscow River. The Mnevnikovskaya floodplain is also separated from the hustle and bustle of the center by massive green spaces of about 650 hectares: Krylatsky and Suvorovsky parks, Fili park, Moskvoretsky natural park.
In this green environment, literally within a 15-minute walk, many city sports facilities will appear in the future: a tennis court, volleyball courts, the Tatyana Navka Ice Palace, the Alexander Ovechkin Hockey Academy, a rowing canal, a surfing center and much more. By the way, none of the participants of the Island Games from Bermuda to the islands under the control of Britain has such a set.
In addition to the diverse sports infrastructure in the district, Ostrov residents will have the opportunity to keep fit on sports grounds with exercise equipment, in workout zones and fitness rooms directly in the lobby and right on the landscaped courtyards. Now Donstroy is building six quarters on Ostrov at the same time, in which nine fitness rooms are planned for 589 sq. m. and seven sports grounds with an area of over 1,450 sq.m.
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