The Arafura Games began as the Arafura Sports Festival in 1991 with 1,500 athletes competing in seven sports. From 1998 it was known as the Arafura Games and was held every two years.

The Arafura Games was a well-developed international multi-sport event that attracted participants from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, with the 2011 Games attracting 2,200 visiting athletes.

The Games fostered goodwill between sporting neighbours and shared sporting and cultural knowledge within the Asia-Pacific region. Significantly, the Arafura Games also provided the Northern Territory sporting organisations with the opportunity to develop facilities, coaches, officials as well as athletes.

After an eight year hiatus, the Northern Territory Government has brought back the Games which presents opportunities to showcase our unique arts, culture, history and trade and investment links. It is an event through which friendship and understanding between competing nations and the Northern Territory is fostered.

The Arafura Games 2019 featured 17 sport disciplines, including, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Basketball 3X3 Pro Hustle, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Football, Indoor Volleyball, Muaythai, Netball, Sailing, Sepak Takraw, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis and Weightlifting,

The 2019 program was integrated with para events including Athletics, Swimming, Tennis and Table Tennis.