Way down at the bottom of the long list of events for the World Police and Fire Games — an athletic competition among first responders coming to Fairfax County next summer — is an event called “wrist wrestling.”
This Police and Fire Games novice was a little confused, especially upon inspecting photos of said event, which pretty much just looked like arm wrestling.
As it turns out, wrist wrestling is what most people know as arm wrestling, but an international association governing the competitive sport renamed it wrist wrestling a few years ago, according to Michael Smith, vice president of marketing for the World Police and Fire Games.
“That’s the name for it that the sport itself has identified, because you don’t really use your arm, you use your wrist to push the other guy down,” Smith said.
The wrist wrestling competition is just one of more than 65 competitive sporting events that police officers, firefighters and other first responders from around the world will compete in at the 2015 World Police and Fire Games, which will be based in Fairfax County from June 26-July 5, 2015. Organizers plan a press event Wednesday to introduce Gov. Terry McAuliffe as honorary chair and provide an update on the event.
The games, which are held every two years, are expected to bring more than 12,000 athletes from 70 countries to Fairfax County. All paid firefighters, law enforcement officers — that includes any local FBI or Homeland Security officials — and first responders are eligible. The events range from more typical athletic contests such as track, soccer and hockey to darts, rugby, angling and a variety of shooting events.
Many events will be held at George Mason University, but others will be spread around the region, including at venues in Montgomery County and other parts of Northern Virginia. The opening ceremonies, expected to attract 30,000 people, will be held at RFK Memorial Stadium.
The stair races — races performed in full firefighter gear up dozens of flights of stairs — will be held in the stairways of the WJLA TV building at 1000 Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn. And get ready, fans of the Tom Cruise-as-Maverick beach volleyball scene from “Top Gun”: The beach volleyball competition is expected to be held in the courts at West Potomac Park.
County tourism officials aim to book a total of 55,000 room nights related to the event just from athletes and their families. Economic estimates suggest that there will be $60 to $80 million spent throughout the region as a result of the games.
Fairfax competed with other major U.S. cities, including Orlando, Florida, for the event. Kevin Reynolds, CEO of Cardinal Bank and chair of the Fairfax 2015 committee, said the Washington region’s broad appeal to international and domestic travelers alike might have put the city over the edge.
“There’s also a great deal of excitement to be in this region for Independence Day celebrations,” Reynolds said.
The Fairfax 2015 committee pledged to raise about $20 million to put on the games, including the opening ceremony, an athlete’s village that will be open 12 hours per day in Reston Town Center and other events.
Fairfax County has committed $3 million and corporate sponsors, including Keolis America — the operator of Virginia Railway Express — have committed $2 million, according to Reynolds. McAuliff included $1 million for the games in his 2015 budget, although that budget has yet to pass in the General Assembly.
Other local officials and celebrities serving as honorary board members for the event include Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Cal Ripken Jr.