Cairns, for so long the gateway to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, will now become the gateway to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Australian Dolphins Swim team.
The tropical Far-North Queensland city will be synonymous with the cream of Australia’s elite swimmers following the announcement today of a three-year partnership between Swimming Australia and Cairns Regional Council.
In a major coup, Cairns will host up to six Australian Dolphins Swim Team Training Camps between 2018 and 2020, with:
- The first camp to be held between July 15-28 before the Australian Swim Team fly to Tokyo for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, followed by;
- The Australian team’s Para Pan Pacific Championships Camp from August 1-8 before;
- The Tobruk Pool hosts the 2018 Para Pan Pacific Swimming Championships between August 9 and 13 with;
- Another three camps for the Olympic and Paralympic teams set down between next year and the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Both teams will utilise the warm weather training venue at the Tobruk Pool in 2020 before their Staging Camps in Japanese City Nagoaka and onto Tokyo.
Swimming Australia’s Chief Commercial Officer Chris Forbes said Cairns would become the Dolphins second home as they prepared for the Games.
“All parties are ecstatic with this partnership, which will be a “win win” for all concerned,” said Forbes.
“We’re happy because it provides our teams with an ideal warm weather training venue in one of the best facilities anywhere in Australia – and Cairns are happy because they can show case the best home grown swimming talent and host overseas countries as well.
“The climate, the pool and the facilities will be a perfect combination as our teams to put the finishing touches to their respective Games preparations.”
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said Council was delighted to work with Swimming Australia in welcoming athletes from around the world to a Cairns region that holds immense global appeal and is well placed to deliver economic and social returns.
“Major event tourism initiatives such as the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships lead to many lasting benefits for the host city and host State,” Cr Manning said.
“It is expected that this event will not only have a substantial regional appeal but also draw top swimmers and fans from within Queensland, interstate and internationally.”
Australian Dolphins head coach Jacco Verhaeren said the “direct link to Tokyo” was a huge plus for his team.
“It’s an ideal combination for winter training in a warmer climate and the direct flights which will be a huge advantage for our athletes,” said Verhaeren.
“We will utilise Cairns before this year’s Pan Pacs in Toyko, then the 2019 for the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea and before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“The fact that we can have the option of going to Cairns off our Trials, five weeks out from the man event will certainly be to our advantage.
“We really fortunate that the next three years all the major events are in Asia and in our own time zone.”
Australia’s Paralympic Program Manager Adam Pine said Cairns was the ideal “home away from home” for his team.
“We have actually used Cairns in recent years for our training camps and it’s certainly ideal for the Pan Pac Para Championships,” said Pine.
“It will be a great development meet for Australia – we’ll be able to select a really big team two years out form the Paralympic Games and also a Junior Development team as well.
“We have already had confirmation from the USA, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, with more countries to come.
“It will be the main priority meet for us in 2018 in the lead up to Tokyo with a team of around 40 athletes and we will also take in a Youth Team with the opportunity to be around the main team and get experience swimming the heats.
“The Tobruk Pool facility is outstanding and we couldn’t be happier with this outcome.
“It’s a five-day meet featuring 19 countries and for Cairns it will be a real boost with athletes, teams and families having the opportunity to bask in the warm weather for competition and training and with the closeness to Asia.”
Pine also said the fact that Australian teams could fly directly from Cairns to Tokyo was a major plus.
“It is only a five-six hour fight from Cairns into Tokyo which is ideal,” said Pine.