In a press release from the Minister of the Arafura Games and the Northern Territory government, it was announced that in light of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arafura Games have been deferred until 2023.
The Games take years of careful planning, and uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic make it impossible to arrange them to a satisfactory level in order to deliver quality community events.
The Arafura Games, scheduled for May 2021, rely heavily on the participation of interstate and international athletes. Although border restrictions are easing in Australia, there remains no guarantee participants will be willing or able to travel for either event.
The majority of Arafura Games participants come from overseas, which remains a significant unknown.
Quotes attributable to Natasha Fyles, Minister for the Arafura Games:
“We are the Government who brought back the Arafura Games in 2019 after an eight year hiatus with great success and with huge benefit to the Northern Territory community.
“To say we are disappointed to have had to make this decision is an understatement, but we’re committed to the Arafura Games and under a Territory Labor Government we will see them return in 2023.
“Throughout this public health emergency we’ve been unable to predict the Games’ future in any capacity.
“While I hope in 11 months’ time we will have well and truly adjusted to our ‘new normal’ with little to no further spread of COVID-19, there remains too many unknowns to commit to an Arafura Games in 2021.”
Muaythai and IFMA remain committed to participation in the Games at the elite level, as it is a major event on the calendar giving competitive opportunities to international athletes.