Features Tourism

Going for gold: Join the force at the World Police & Fire Games this summer

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham at World Police and Fire Games Winnipeg 2023 100 Day countdown

Faster than rapid transit, bigger than the 1999 Pan Am Games, able to leap 300 Main Street in a single bound, it’s going to take over the city, including much of St. James—it’s the World Police & Fire Games.

If you’re a hotel, restaurant, pub or retailer of any kind, you need to be sure you’ve got July 28 to August 6 marked on your calendar. The World Police & Fire Games are a celebration of athleticism, competitive spirit and the contributions of firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and any type of law enforcement, says Natalie Thiesen, vice-president of tourism at Tourism Winnipeg.

Photo by Maddy Reico/Economic Development Winnipeg

“These are their Olympics. They will be bigger than the Pan Am Games and bigger than any convention we’ve ever had,” she says. “Every hotel in the city will be full, same with Airbnbs, and even hotels as far away as Selkirk and Steinbach will be full.”

More than 8,500 athletes from around the world plus a few thousand more spouses, children and friends, are getting ready to descend upon Winnipeg for an event that will pump more than $20.3 million into the local economy.

The 1999 Pan Am Games, by comparison, had about 5,000 athletes from 42 countries participating in 42 different events.

Many of the sports are the kind you would expect—track and field, tennis, boxing, rowing, volleyball (both traditional and beach), swimming, cycling and triathlon—but also on the docket are angling, corn hole, cross fit, dodgeball, darts, dragon boat, Pickleball, skeet shooting, tug-of-war, arm wrestling, bench press, stair race (up 300 Main Street) and TCA (toughest competitor alive).

The 38 venues required to accommodate a sporting event of this size include both the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg, as well as the Pan Am Pool, the RBC Convention Centre
Winnipeg, Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club, Bison Butte, the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex, Red River Exhibition Park among many others.

Most of the sports are open to the public—a few of the shooting events are closed off to spectators—but you’ll be able to get up close and personal in the half-marathon in a way you never have
before. Held at St. Vital Park on July 30, it will feature athletes from all over plus whoever wants to enter from Winnipeg.

Seriously. You can run alongside the athletes. (But if you win, you will NOT get a medal.)

When they’re away from the field of play, the athletes and their friends and family will be looking for things to do and see in the city. Thiesen says that our city’s entire hospitality industry has an
opportunity to shine as we introduce visiting athletes and spectators to our city’s unique assets, top-tier attractions, and vibrant culinary scene. (Every athlete will have paid their own way to Winnipeg, and we can help ensure this it will also be a memorable vacation.)

“The Games will be the ideal time to be an ambassador for Winnipeg. If you see somebody looking at a map, ask them if they need directions to a venue or a recommendation on a place to eat. Give them a smile and welcome them to our city. Those are simple things that go a long way. If you hear somebody speaking in another language that you also speak, talk to them in their Mother
Tongue. It’s all such a tremendous opportunity to welcome people to our city, and to inspire them to want to come back again to discover us,” she says.

The 2023 Police & Fire Games opening ceremony will be held at Canada Life Centre on July 28 while the closing ceremony will take place at The Forks on August 6. For details, visit wpfg2023.com.


Highlights from Manitoba business

Stay informed on breaking news, announcements and more right here.