The Maldives’ much lauded sands and waters will host the country’s first ever international sports event this year, with the launch of an inaugural beach games event expected to run from 18 September to 25 September.
According to event organisers, the Maldives Beach Games 2011 will to bring hundreds of athletes from around the world to the country in order to compete in 10 sporting disciplines involving the sun, sand and surf of the Maldives.
The games were launched on Thursday night with a laser show and an appearance from renowned Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya at Male’s Kulhivaru Ekuveni Indoor Hall.
Speaking during the launch, Jayasuriya said he had been caught “off guard” when asked to give a speech upon arriving in Male’ earlier in the day, but having himself visited the Maldives a number of times, the cricketer said he believed the games would be a major opportunity to show off the country’s hospitality to the world.
“I’ve been to [the Maldives] before, quite a few times, and I know how you look after people and guests,” he said. “About 375 to 400 athletes will be here in Male’ competing at eight different locations and I hope [they] all will enjoy their stay and the games in 2011.”
The opening ceremony, which was held around a shipwreck set designed to emulate the Maldivian legend of the “Prince Koimala”, who was said to have first led the country after becoming shipwrecked, concluded with a light show that announced the events contested during the games as well as its slogan – “beat the beach”.
A wealth of events including triathlon, kabaddi, beach cricket, football and ‘volleyball’ along with body building, swimming, rowing, surfing and wind surfing will be contested during the games at eight different locations around the country yet to be identified.
In the lead up to the event, tourism authorities will seek to build active interest in the games among visitors.