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The ‘Mini Olympics

In 1985 the Isle of Man set in motion an exciting and ambitious plan to bring together athletes from small islands across the world to take part in a new sporting festival — the ‘Inter-Island Games’. 

700 sportsmen and -women from 15 islands landed on Manx soil for what the UK national press dubbed the ‘Small Islands Mini Olympics’. Competitors hailed from the Faroe Islands and Scandinavia in the northern hemisphere, the British Isles, the Mediterranean and as far afield as St Helena in the South Atlantic—a 5,000-mile trip.

 After a week of events in eight different sports the festival was deemed such a success it was agreed to continue it every other year, with the second Games to be held in Guernsey in 1987.

Growth of the Games

Over the next 12 years the Games travelled to the Faroe Islands, Áland, the Isle of Wight, Gibraltar and Jersey, where the number of competitors reached 2,000.

Many more islands expressed a desire to join the Games Family, and representatives of a wide variety of sports lobbied for inclusion.

As enthusiasm for the Games grew, the event became hugely important to the islands’ sporting communities. The possibility of being chosen to represent their home island in the Games became a strong motivator for young athletes to train hard and fulfil their potential.

The islands’ goverments also began to realise what a positive impact sport could have on a small community; promoting a healthy lifestyle, providing a focus for young people and strengthening a nation’s cultural identity.

Going the distance

In 1998 the Games secured sponsorship with NatWest International, which now provides financial assistance to host islands to ease the significant cost of hosting such a large-scale event.

The partnership has also resulted in the popular and hugely beneficial NatWest International Sports Development Programme, which aims to improve and develop sport and increase participation levels in our island communities.

The NatWest International Island Games – bringing islands together.

Be a part of the Games Family

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Venue Number of sports Number of Islands Number of Competitors
1985 Isle of Man 7 15 700
1987 Guernsey 9 18 1049
1989 Faroe Islands 11 15 800
1991 Aland 13 17 1500
1993 Isle of Wight 14 19 1448
1995 Gibraltar 14 18 1214
1997 Jersey 14 20 2000
1999 Gotland 14 22 1858
2001 Isle of Man 14 22 2020
2003 Guernsey 14 23 2129
2005 Shetland 14 24 1658
2007 Rhodes 14 25 2343
2009 Aland 14 25 2286
2011 Isle of Wight 14 24 2311
2013 Bermuda 14 24


2015 Jersey 14 24 2430
2017 Gotland 14 23 2333
2019 Gibraltar 14 22 1624
2023 Guernsey 14 24 2082