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It's Games time

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The first wave of Newfoundland and Labrador athletes, coaches, managers and mission staff are ready for the start of competition Saturday at the 2017 Canada Summmer Games in Winnipeg.

Opening ceremonies were held Friday night at t Bell MTS Place, while the closing ceremonies, on Aug. 13, will be held at Investors Group Field, home of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was ion hand for Friday's opening ceremonies.

Some 400 athletes, coaches, managers and mission staff are representing the province in Winnipeg, the largest city (population just over 700,000) to stage the Canada Games.

The 2017 Games marks the event’s 50th anniversary in Canada’s 150th year.

The last time the Canada Games were in Manitoba was in 1997, exactly 20 years ago in Brandon.

Week 1 sports on the slate are athletics, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, mountain biking (Newfoundland and Labrador does not have any athletes in that sport), diving, rowing, sailing, women’s soccer, men’s softball, triathlon and beach volleyball.

The rowing competition is being held in Kenora, Ont., about two hours from Winnipeg, while the sailors will compete in Gimli, Man., about an hour from downtown Winnipeg.

Competition in the second week is in canoe/kayak (there are no Newfoundland and Labrador athletes competing), cycling, golf, men’s soccer, women’s softball, swimming, tennis, men’s and women’s volleyball and wrestling.

Some 4,000 athletes, coaches, managers and mission staff in total are expected to compete in Winnipeg, and the city is expected to attract some 20,000 visitors.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is estimating about $150 million-$160 million will be dropped in the city and surrounding areas during the Games.

Winnipeg has had its share of large sporting events — 1999 Pan American Games, Grey Cups, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, 2016 NHL Heritage Classic — and these Canada Games figure to be up there in terms of interest and generated revenue.

Newfoundland and Labrador is coming off a disappointing performance at the last Summer Games, four years ago in Sherbrooke, Que., when the province won only two medals, one by swimmer Owen Daly and another by Special Olympian Chris Dugas.

That came on the heels of a six-medal performance at the 2009 Summer Games in P.E.I.

Men’s softball returns to the 2017 Canada Games and the hope is Newfoundland and Labrador will be a contender in that sport. There’s also some medal hopes in wrestling, and track and field, according to chef de mission Rod Snow, is, “always a pleasant surprise.”

This event was supposed to be the one preceding the 2021 Summer Games slated for Newfoundland and Labrador. But the province announced two years ago it was deferring its turn in the Canada Games rotation to Ontario. That’s because, according to the provincial government, there wasn’t enough time to get things in place, namely facilities.

As a result, Newfoundland will take Ontario's slot for the 2025 Summer Games.

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