Indian Ocean Island Games


Indian Ocean Island Games

The Indian Ocean Island Games are a sports competition played in and represented by various islands in the southwest of the Indian Ocean.

Origins

The idea to organise a sports competition in the Indian Ocean came from the Regional Olympic Committee of Réunion, who stated it among their objectives in their 1974 convention. The IOC adopted it in 1976.

The competition was initially billed as the Indian Ocean Games. However, its name was changed to the Indian Ocean Island Games before the first games, without the participation of Sri Lanka, initially in the bill.

The Games have been held in the following locations:
# 1979 Saint-Denis, Réunion
# 1985 Port Louis, Mauritius
# 1990 Antananarivo, Madagascar
# 1993 Victoria, Seychelles
# 1998 Saint-Denis, Réunion
# 2003 Réduit, Mauritius
# 2007 Antananarivo, Madagascar

Different competitions

Mauritius hosted the sixth and latest competition between August 29 and September 7 2003, with Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles and France participating, the latter represented by participants from its overseas territories Réunion and, for the first time, Mayotte.

The sports represented in the 2003 competition included athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, judo, soccer, weight lifting, swimming, tennis, table tennis, sailing and volleyball. Judo competitions took place in Rodrigues.

France won the most gold medals, mainly because of its domination in the swimming competition. Mauritius gained the most medals overall, thanks in part to respected athletes such as Stéphan Buckland.

Problems

The Games have always been burdened with three major difficulties.

Firstly, before each Games, the list of disciplines comes under great scrutiny, with each country's committee vying to include sports in which they excel. Réunion, for example, pushed strongly for handball, at which they are undisputedly the best, to be included.

Secondly, a significant difference exists concerning the overall vision and goals of the Games. Whereas Réunion imagines an ambitious expansion, Madagascar continues to set forward more modest goals. This difference is essentially due to the different measures enjoyed by the different national delegations, some being more well-off than others.

The third difficulty stems from defining what it means to be Réunionnais. The French delegation pushes for a broader definition of being from Réunion, hoping to allow mainland French nationals recently moved to the island to compete.

In 2003, another problem arose after Mayotte was represented for the first time. The Mayotte team had to join forces with Réunion, as the combined team of "France of the Indian Ocean".


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