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News posted on Wednesday 19th April, 2023

A game changer: Paralympics New Zealand endorses New Zealand’s interest in hosting 2034 Commonwealth Games

Duane Kale portrait

Paralympics New Zealand enthusiastically endorses the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s interest in hosting the 2034 Commonwealth Games.

PNZ’s acting CE, Paralympian #96 Duane Kale, says:

“A New Zealand Commonwealth Games would be momentous for New Zealand and our Para athletes. We would be delighted to see the Commonwealth Games take place here, with Para athletes’ friends and whānau cheering them on. The regional hosting model means all of Aotearoa could get involved – and that includes the 24% of New Zealanders with a disability.”

Under the NZOC’s approach, a New Zealand Commonwealth Games would see competition take place across multiple cities and regions, adapted to local interests.

Kale foresees a legacy moment for inclusivity in sport:

“New Zealand knows how to deliver incredible and unique sporting events. We can’t wait to see what this country could create in terms of a truly inclusive Commonwealth Games. New Zealand could genuinely make history.”

Paralympian #164 and Laureus Award nominee Cameron Leslie works with up-and-coming Para swimmers in his role as Disability and Para Swimming Participation Manager at Swimming New Zealand. He’s excited about the possibility, saying:

“You can’t underestimate the power of seeing role models up close. With the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games in Australia, the Brisbane 2032 Paralympic Games, and now the chance of a New Zealand 2034 Commonwealth Games, the next generation of young disabled people in Oceania are going to see much more visible role models. Just like the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games inspired me when I saw these amazing Paralympic athletes, a New Zealand Commonwealth Games would really move the dial.”

Cameron Leslie portrait
Paralympian #164 Cameron Leslie

Para athletes wouldn’t be the only group to benefit. All New Zealanders would have the opportunity to be involved in Para sport as officials, as volunteers and as fans.

Para sports have been an integrated part of the Commonwealth Games programme since the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games. Unlike the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are two separate events, in the Commonwealth Games, Para athletes and their non-disabled peers are part of one team. The range of Para sport events on offer has gradually increased, with 43 events across 8 sports contested at the last Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022. This remains a much smaller range than that on offer at a Paralympic Games, meaning not all Para athletes are eligible to compete.

For PNZ, it’s not just how exciting a home Commonwealth Games would be – there’s a practical benefit too. New Zealand’s Para athletes often have to travel huge distances to compete internationally. The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, for example, are over 17,000 km away. Travel can have significant extra complexity and cost for Para athletes compared to their non-disabled peers, calling into question the viability of pursuing high performance sport.

PNZ Athletes’ Council Member and Paralympian #148 Michael Johnson agrees:

“With a New Zealand 2034 Commonwealth Games to look forward to, young Para athletes in Oceania today could set their sights on competing at the highest level. It removes an extra hurdle that some disabled people face, and that would absolutely be a game changer.”

Michael Johnson
Paralympian #148 Michael Johnson

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