Ahead of the 10th edition of the World Masters Games, we’re taking a look at the long and successful history of the world’s biggest festival of sport.

Since their inception in 1985, the Games have brought together thousands of like-minded Masters athletes to participate in the sports they love.

The goal was to provide athletic adults of all skill levels a platform to compete, but also an opportunity to find friendship, explore beautiful locations and remain active.

As Masters sport evolved, so did our events. Now, our flagship event, the World Masters Games, is officially the world’s largest mass-participated international sports event.

Here, we share the story of the World Masters Games.


Toronto 1985

‘The Year of the Masters’ – the year the World Masters Games legacy began.

In the summer of 1985, 8,305 Masters athletes gathered in Toronto, Canada for the first ever World Masters Games.

Participants from 61 countries competed across 22 sporting disciplines in a true celebration of Masters sport.

World Masters Games
World Masters Games – Toronto, 1985


Aarhus, Aalborg and Herning 1989

Following the first ever World Masters Games in Toronto, the event returned four years later, but this time on European soil.

The picturesque Danish cities of Aarhus, Aalborg and Herning hosted almost 8,000 Masters athletes from 42 different sporting disciplines as the community came together to celebrate ‘Sport For All’.

Opening Ceremony
World Masters Games – Aarhus, Aalborg, Herning, 1989


Brisbane 1994

In 1994, the World Masters Games landed in Australia for the first time.

As the biggest World Masters Games to date, Brisbane provided a home for a mammoth 24,500 Masters visitors from all over the globe.

The Games were a great success and truly carried with them the spirit of Masters sport.

World Masters Games – Brisbane, 1994


Portland 1998

Portland played host to the World Masters Games in 1998.

This was a ‘Global Celebration of Sport For Life” as over 11,000 athletes arrived in Oregon’s largest city for 2 weeks of competition, fun and friendship.

The 1998 World Masters Games was the first to featured ‘reunion’ competitions in several sports. These competitions gave spectators a chance to watch heroes of yesterday compete. They also held a ‘Celebration Weekend’ where spectators were invited to attend numerous art, cultural and social events.

Masters Games
World Masters Games – Portland, 1998


Melbourne 2002

Following the success of Brisbane, the World Masters Games returned to Australian shores for the 5th edition of the Games.

This was the biggest World Masters Games since its inception, with nearly 24,900 athletes competing across 26 sports over the 14-day period.

The outstanding success of the Melbourne 2002 World Masters Games set a benchmark for future Games to come.

Melbourne Opening ceremony
World Masters Games – Melbourne, 2002


Edmonton 2005

Canada was the destination for the 6th edition of the World Masters Games.

The motto? Passion Qualifies You.

Around 21,600 athletes travelled to take part in 27 sports including athletics, beach volleyball, orienteering and weightlifting.

The Edmonton 2005 World Masters Games exceeded all expectations, leaving a lasting impression on the people of Edmonton and Western Canada.

Masters Games
World Masters Games – Edmonton, 2005


Sydney 2009

The World Masters Games returned to Australia for a third time in 2009 as Masters sport continued to grow from strength to strength in the region.

A record number of Masters athletes made Sydney their home as they celebrated being “fit, fun and forever young.”

With 28 sports, 28,676 athletes and 33,244 registered participants, Sydney 2009 was the biggest Games yet.

World Masters Games
World Masters Games – Sydney, 2009


Torino 2013

Following the success of Sydney, the World Masters Games returned to Europe for the much anticipated 8th edition.

The host city was Torino – a beautiful city in the north of Italy recognised for hosting an extremely successful Winter Olympics back in 2006.

Nearly 20,000 people from 107 countries enjoyed the beautiful city of Torino and the region of Piedmont as they competed across 30 sports.

Opening ceremony
World Masters Games – Torino, 2013


Auckland 2017

In the words of the Auckland 2017 Chairman and Chief Executive, the World Masters Games 2017 started unknown and finished unforgettable.

It was an event four years in the making that lasted 10 memorable days in April 2017, reuniting old friendships and reigniting sporting rivalries.

From elite athletes to keen amateurs, around 24,900 athletes and 28,500 participants from all over the world took part in 28 sports across 48 venues.


Kansai 2021

The World Masters Games marks a milestone next year as the Kansai region of Japan prepare to host the 10th edition of the Games.

With over 50,000 athletes expected to partake in 35 sports and 59 disciplines, Kansai 2021 is set to be the biggest and best World Masters Games yet.

Join us in Kansai as we make history.

Find out more about the event here.

Events News Kansai 2021
Next Games: Kansai 2021