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 until 2011, except in 2003 when it was cancelled due to concerns relating to an overseas health epidemic.
The Arafura Games was a well-developed international multi-sport event that attracted participants from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, with the 2011 event attracting 1,600 visiting athletes.
The Arafura Games fostered goodwill between sporting neighbours and shared sporting and cultural knowledge within the Asia-Pacific region. Significantly, the Arafura Games also provided Northern Territory sporting organisations with the opportunity to develop facilities, coaches, officials as well as athletes. In terms of community engagement, the Arafura Games recruited over 1,000 local and interstate volunteers to support the event and also provided opportunity for interaction with local primary and secondary schools.
In 2012, the then Government cancelled the scheduled 2013 games, citing that the event cost too much and failed to meet Asian engagement objectives.
Led by Mrs Kate Worden MLA, the Assistant Minister for Bringing Back the Arafura Games, a Steering Committee has been established to determine the philosophy and guiding principles for the Arafura Games.
The Committee is consulting with relevant stakeholders and the public on their views around the return of the Arafura Games. These consultations will inform the development of a Strategic Framework that will facilitate the return of the Arafura Games, and support the relationship between the business, cultural, sporting and tourism objectives.