Thousands of first responders gather in Winnipeg for 2023 World Police and Fire Games

The 2023 World Police and Fire Games, being held in Winnipeg this weekend, is expected to bring thousands of first responder athletes from 70 countries around the world to Manitoba. Alex Karpa reports.

The largest sporting event the city has ever seen — the 2023 World Police and Fire Games — is being held in Winnipeg this weekend, and is expected to bring thousands of first responder athletes from around the world to Manitoba.

Around 8,500 athletes representing firefighters, police officers, and paramedics from 70 countries around the world will be competing. Grant Therrien is a Flight Paramedic with STARS Air Ambulance in Manitoba. He will be playing hockey with a Winnipeg Fire hockey team.

“It’s a great opportunity to come together as first responders, who normally would interact together on a scene of a motor vehicle collision or something now, and now we are playing hockey together, playing against our allied partners, police, fire, EMS. It’s just a great opportunity to play,” said Therrien.

Canada hockey jersey at the Police and Fire games. (Photo Credit: Steve Anderson)

The Games will see over 60 sporting events ranging from traditional sports like hockey, to less common competitions like stair racing.

CEO of the games, Mike Edwards says Winnipeg has been waiting a long time for an event of this scale.

“Winnipeg is already a huge multicultural city and now to be able to bring in an additional element of that, it is going to change the makeup of the city for the 10-days of competition, plus they will stay for vacation at the beginning and the end, to really bring that multiculturalism and bring the world to Winnipeg.”

The games are expected to have an estimated economic impact north of $80 million, which Dayna Spiring from Economic Development Winnipeg says is a big boost for the city.

2023 World Police and Fire Games logo. (Photo Credit: World Police and Fire Games)

“We’ve got thousands of people that are in our city right now. They are going to be here for the next couple of weeks. A lot of them have brought their families for summer vacations. Our hotels are full. Our restaurants are busy. When they are not competing in the games, they are going to see our world class attractions. This is going to be very important for our city,” said Spiring.

Michael Juce, the President of the Manitoba Hotel Association says many hotels are already fully booked up in Winnipeg and the surrounding area.

“It’s been huge as we are looking at several thousand participants, and when it is all set and done, we could be looking at 10s of thousands of room nights which is obviously a huge boost to our sector,” said Juce.

Therrien says there is a little more pressure playing on a team that represents the host city.

“We’re gunning for a medal, and we certainly hope that’s in the cards for our team, but there are so many great teams from across the world that are coming to play. We look forward to interacting in good sportsmanship and spirit and hopefully we come out on top.”

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