“The 2013 World Police and Fire Games have been the friendliest and best games ever,” said Mike Graham, WPFG Federation President speaking at the Closing Ceremony of the Games at Belfast’s Titanic Slipways which began in dramatic style with a flypast by the Red Arrows. He confirmed that in the 28 years that this international multi-sport event had been running that these were definitely the best. “The organisation and professionalism of the WPFG delivery team has been exemplary, the warmth and welcome of the many thousand volunteers has been outstanding, the support of the local people has been second to none and even the weather has been fabulous. The WPFG Federation is absolutely delighted with what has been the pinnacle of our Games to date and we are indebted to Belfast and Northern Ireland for making it happen.”
The Closing Ceremony was the final element of the two week festival of 56 sports which took place in 41 venues across Northern Ireland. Almost 7,000 competitors from 67 countries participated.
Compered by Pete Snodden, the Closing Ceremony included music from the Open Arts Choir, the PSNI Pipe Band and the Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band (representing Fairfax 2015). A special tribute was paid to the 3500 volunteers known as the ‘spirit of the games’ for their friendly and enthusiastic contribution. The formalities included a parade of flags from the participating countries, the handing over of the WPFG Flag to next host city Fairfax and the final journey of the Flame of Hope carried by Special Olympians and handed over to Jerome Williams, Fairfax 2015.
John Tully, Chief Executive 2013 WPFG said, “The Games have been an overwhelming success. When we began this journey it was our goal to deliver the friendliest games ever. I’m very proud to say that the reality of what has been achieved has far exceeded our expectations. Huge gratitude must go to the commitment of the WPFG delivery team who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes; the passion and dedication of the volunteers and the people of Northern Ireland who have welcomed our visitors and embraced the Games.
Whilst the Games are now over I’m confident that their legacy will live on for years to come through a newly enhanced culture of volunteering, a greater interest in sport by our young people and the impact of several thousand new ‘ambassadors’ for Northern Ireland as our International athletes spread the word about their positive experiences here.”
Also speaking about the success of the Games, Deputy Chief Constable and Chair of the 2013 WPFG Board, Judith Gillespie said:
“The 2013 World Police and Fire Games were a prime example of why Northern Ireland is renowned for its warm and friendly welcome and the opportunity to meet and greet so many local, national and international colleagues and visitors has been just fantastic.
“Competitors came from 67 countries, near and far across the globe to take part in one of the biggest sporting events ever held in Northern Ireland, in the spirit of competition and friendship.
“Our aim as hosts of 2013 Games was to make them the friendliest Games ever and I have seen evidence of this every day, with competitors from all countries mingling in a carnival atmosphere, and our Games volunteers giving enthusiastic support whenever and wherever needed. It is not just us that are saying this; many people have spoken to me across the various venues and have told me that this is the friendliest Games they have ever attended
“I feel very proud, of all of our serving and retired colleagues as they stood shoulder to shoulder with fire service and prison service colleagues in Team Northern Ireland. But I am also extremely proud to have been part of this wonderful event that has brought such colour, vibrancy and enjoyment to so many and which I hope will leave a lasting legacy for Northern Ireland for many years to come.”
Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Carál NÍ Chuilín said:
“What the last ten days have done is reflect a vibrant, confident and forward-looking society. We invited the world to visit the north, thousands of people came and saw our best side – now they are heading home with fond memories.
This was a collective effort, but that should not take away from the tremendous individual endeavours which have made these Games a success. This has been evident in the build-up and throughout the Games: from the organisers to the volunteers to personnel representing the services; from the sporting officials to the backroom staff who helped deliver the competition.”
Mary Peters, Patron of WPFG 2013 said, “It has been an honour to have been part of the team which brought the Games to Northern Ireland. I could never have imagined back in 2007 when we won the bid in Adelaide just how successful these Games would be. My greatest hope is that the wonderful athletes from all over the world who we have watched and cheered on will prove inspirational to our young people and encourage them to get involved in sport.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, described the benefits for Belfast as enormous. “The success of these Games has been particularly significant for Belfast as the host city,” he said. “This was an amazing opportunity for us to showcase our world class facilities and venues. We rolled out the welcome mat and – having spoken to so many visitors here for the Games – I am confident that they will now spread the word about what we have to offer and the good experiences they have enjoyed. This was a win-win for everyone. A great time was had by all – visitors and locals. Everyone enjoyed one big party!”