Orkney to host 2023 International Island Games

sprinter at starting blocks
Hannah Downey

Once every two years, thousands of athletes from across the globe come together to compete in the NatWest International Island Games.

It has recently been announced that Orkney will be the first Scottish Island to host the Island Games since the event was last held in Shetland in 2005. 

The decision was made following a presentation at an Annual General Meeting of the International Island Games Association (IIGA) in Gibraltar, after receiving unanimous support from all 24 participating teams.

Jörgen Pettersson, chairman of the International Island Games Association, said, "Congratulations to Orkney, one of our founding member islands.

"Ever since the start of the IIGA in 1985 Orkney has enthusiastically taken part in the NatWest International Island Games. 

"Orkney will be the 12th host island of the Games that brings islands and islanders together in friendly competition."

The event is expected to attract up to 2,000 visitors to the islands, as well as providing a number of employment opportunities for locals - including up to three full-time positions available as part of the event’s organising team.

The Scottish Government provided £500,000 towards delivery of the Games, and culture and tourism minister Fiona Hyslop, said, “Hosting the 2023 Island Games is a fantastic opportunity for Orkney and the whole of Scotland to deliver another memorable, world-class multi-sport event, while enabling local and international audiences to experience what our diverse country has to offer.

“While further promoting Scotland as a perfect stage for international events, the Games will also contribute to boosting the local economy, promoting job opportunities and creating a lasting sporting legacy for the islands.”

A total of 13 sports - archery, athletics, badminton, clay shooting, football, golf, gymnastics, lawn bowls, road cycling, sailing, squash, swimming and triathlon - are set to feature.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events, said, “Events play a vital role in our visitor economy and EventScotland is committed to supporting the delivery of a diverse portfolio of events that not only showcase Scotland as the perfect stage for events but also bring strong economic and social benefits to all regions across the country.

“The Island Games will certainly do this for Orkney and we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with everyone as our focus now turns to bringing the island communities together in 2023 and delivering the best Island Games ever.”

For more information, visit the International Island Games Association website.