TORONTO 2015 Games Creating Sports Tourism Boom in Ontario

Province hosting 45+ sport competitions in lead-up to largest international multi-sport Games in Canadian history

TORONTO, May 14, 2014 /CNW/ - They may be more than a year away, but the TORONTO 2015 Games are already creating an unprecedented sport tourism boom across Ontario.

Starting this weekend, 45-plus sports competitions — more than half are international in scope — are coming to 16 communities over the next 11 months, including: Toronto, Ajax, Brampton, Burlington, Guelph, Hamilton, Innisfil, London, Markham, Milton, Minden, Mississauga, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Oro-Medonte, St. Catharines and Whitby.

"The opportunity to compete on home soil is such a huge boost for Canadian athletes like myself," said Zak Madell, 19, a rising star in wheelchair rugby from Okotoks, AB. "I hope the people who come out to cheer us on this weekend in London will also be in the stands cheering us on in 2015 to the first-ever gold medal ever awarded in my sport at a Parapan Am Games!"

The events, which range from a single day of competition to up to nine days of elite-level action, are set to draw up to 12,000 athletes like Madell from across Canada and around the world, as well as thousands of spectators.

First up are the Canadian national championships in taekwondo and bowling (Toronto), wheelchair rugby (London) and team handball (Mississauga and Toronto), as well as the 2014 NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournament for men's and women's indoor volleyball (Mississauga).

"According to the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, sports tourism is worth $3.6 billion a year in Canada and it's growing," said Saäd Rafi, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015). "Ontario has never before hosted so many international and national championships — and that's in addition to the TORONTO 2015 Games.

"Already, the impact of the economic and sport legacies of these Games is being felt in Ontario communities," he said. "With the world-class venues we're creating, the trained volunteers and the welcoming spirit of these communities, the Games are acting as the catalyst to perfectly position Ontario to attract even more of these lucrative and prestigious events in the future."

The Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport), added: "Hosting the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games will generate significant economic benefits, including a potential increase in sport tourism. With these competitions, we are already seeing the benefits. We are proud to be making investments into the building of world-class facilities that will serve our elite athletes, as well as the citizens of the Greater Golden Horseshoe region for years to come."

The more than 45 events will provide a unique window for sports fans and community members interested in the Games to get to know the sports (34 of the 51 Pan Am and Parapan Am sports); venues (19 of the 32 competition venues, including sneak peeks of 12 new and renovated facilities); and most importantly the athletes, many of whom are hoping to qualify for the TORONTO 2015 Games through their performances at these competitions.

All but two of the competitions are owned and managed by their respective National Sport Organizations, with additional financial support provided by TO2015 to help bring or keep the events in Ontario.

The Organizing Committee is using the events to test a variety of operational areas, such as athlete transportation, accessibility, overlay, timing and scoring, field of play and volunteer services. The testing is crucial to ensure athletes can perform at their best in 2015.

These sport competitions are also a great springboard to volunteering at the Games. TO2015 will use these competitions to recruit sport volunteers engaged in these events, as well as spectators, athlete family members and friends, for the ultimate volunteer experience.

For additional information on these upcoming competitions, visit TORONTO2015.org/test-events, or the website of the respective National Sport Organization.

About TO2015
The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) is tasked with the responsibility of planning, managing and delivering the Games. Its mission is to ignite the spirit through a celebration of sport and culture. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games will take place July 10–26 and the Parapan American Games August 7–15.

The TORONTO 2015 Games are funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, as well as other partners and sponsors. CIBC is the Lead Partner of the Games.

For more information about the Games, please visit TORONTO2015.org.

SOURCE: Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

For further information: Teddy Katz, Director, media relations and chief spokesperson, TO2015, 416.957.2117, teddy.katz@toronto2015.org

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Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

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