The Arafura Games will return to the Northern Territory of Australia for the first time in eight years in an effort to boost trade with Australia’s Asian neighbours. The games for disabled and able-bodied athletes from around the world were axed by the former Country Liberal government five years ago, but will be held again between April 27 and May 4 in 2019, and Muaythai has been included as one of the 15 official sports on the programme!

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says Labour will invest $4 million for the revived week-long multi-sport festival, which will run every two years.

“We’re putting this on the business calendar… we’re adding an extra element,” he said.

Mr Gunner said there’ll be a strong focus on delivering jobs and building regional investment networks, with the NT Chamber of Commerce to run a $100,000 conference in Darwin during the games.

The Arafura Games were first held in 1991 with nations along the Arafura Sea to strengthen sporting, business and cultural ties between Australia and Asia-Pacific countries. In more recent years, other nations became involved with around 1600 athletes from 40 countries, including the US and England, competing in 2011.

Muaythai made its debut at the Games in 2009 and was also included in the 2011 edition.

In a letter from the new Minister for the Arafura Games Ken Knowles, the revival of the Games was confirmed and Muaythai officially announced to be amount the 15 sports chosen to be included in the 2019 Games. He went on to note “I am certain that if we all work together in true Territory style; the 2019 Arafura Games will be an outstanding success”.

On this occasion IFMA would like to commend Muaythai Australia for their outstanding work and role in ensuring that muaythai once again will be showcased on the official sport programme and NT can be assured that Muaythai’s elite athletes will convene in Darwin for what will be an unforgettable week of competition and cultural exchange.

Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan IFMA President stated that he was proud for the 2009 and 2011 editions when muaythai was once of the major sports next to the Olympic sports, and that in 2019 muaythai will return as an IOC recognised sport. IFMA would use these games to promote muaythai as a cultural art form and the Arafura Games are the perfect platform to foster sporting and cultural exchange.