One of Ulster Rugby’s biggest stars today called for people to support the World Police and Fire Games.
Rory Best said the games – the third largest multi-sport event next to the Olympics and World Masters – provided a unique opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland sport.
The 10-day event in August is expected to attract up to 10,000 visitors and generate an additional £21.5m (€25.5m) for the local economy.
It is also hoped the 3,500 volunteers will help create an atmosphere similar to the London Olympics last year.
“I would like to encourage everyone to get behind the games to celebrate the biggest sporting event to come to Northern Ireland and wish everyone taking part in the games the best of luck,” said Mr Best.
Belfast won the bid to stage the games in 2007. It will be the first time the games have been held in the UK and only the third visit to Europe in their 28 year history.
Meanwhile a major new partnership between drinks giant Diageo and the WPFG was also confirmed.
Alistair McGowan, WPFG director of marketing and communications said the deal would help Belfast deliver the “friendliest ever games”.
“Whilst sport is the key focus of the World Police and Fire Games what happens off the field of play is equally important.
“Camaraderie, developing relationships between services colleagues from across the world, sharing professional and personal experiences and having fun is also a major element of the games ethos,” he said.
Games president Mike Graham, from California, said threats from dissident republicans and adverse publicity from the Union flags dispute had not put people off, with competitors from the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, Germany and Russia already registered.