A bid from Orkney to host the 2023 Island Games has received the official backing of the International Island Games Association (IIGA) Executive Committee.
Following an inspection visit to Orkney by an IIGA delegation in November 2017, a report was presented at the Committee meeting at which has recommended that the archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland be awarded the Games.
A final decision is due to be taken by all 24 members islands at the IIGA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on July 7 in Gibraltar, the host for the next Games in 2019.
The Bid Committee, which includes representatives from the Orkney Island Games Association, Orkney Islands Council and EventScotland, on behalf of Scottish Government, will present their proposals at the AGM.
Orkney has been a member of the IIGA since its inception in 1985, when they were held in the Isle of Man, and for a number of years has had aspirations to host the Games.
The recent development of high-class sports facilities has put Orkney in prime position to secure this international multi-sport event, which would attract up to 2,000 visitors to the islands, it is claimed.
The event is also a chance to celebrate the best of Orkney through its place, produce and people as well as opportunities to create a lasting sporting legacy for the islands, whether through participation or the development of coaching and other supporting roles, Scottish officials claim.
The host islands can choose between 12 and 14 different sports for their Games.
Orkney is set feature 13 sports - archery, athletics, badminton, clay shooting, football, golf, gymnastics, lawn bowls, road cycling, sailing, squash, swimming and triathlon.
"A lot of hard work has gone into preparing Orkney’s bid to host the 2023 Island Games and we’re delighted to receive this positive endorsement from the International Island Games Executive Committee," Liam McArthur, chairman of the Orkney 2023 Bid Committee and Member of the Scottish Parliament, said.
"It follows a highly successful IIGA inspection visit last year, which showcased what Orkney has to offer in terms of excellent sporting facilities and a real appetite to put on a high quality Games,"
"As well as the strong support we have had from those involved in all 13 sports chosen for the Games, a key part of our bid has been to develop a strong accommodation model.
"Recognising the growing popularity of Orkney as summer tourism destination, we have taken account of this and have focused on school and community halls to help provide the majority of our accommodation solutions.
"This is a model that has been used successfully by hosts of previous NatWest International Island Games."
Last year's Island Games were held in Gotland and the 2021 event is due to be held in Guernsey.
"Putting the community at the heart of our bid, of course, will be crucial to giving international visitors a real flavour of Orkney and its people, while also delivering a world-class Games," said McArthur.
"We are very grateful for the support we have received so far, including from our key partners. We aim to secure this fantastic international multi-sport event for Orkney and deliver a memorable and friendly Games in 2023.
"I look forward to presenting our bid to member islands in July and showing everything Orkney has to offer."