Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The 2022 World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) World Championship Professional Standard was the latest sporting event to attract participants from around the globe to the City of Markham.
Hosted by DanceSport GrandPrix Canada, the event drew 300 athletes and 30 officials from across Canada, plus Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Moldova, Italy, Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Chinese Taipei, and Romania to the Markham Pan Am Centre Oct.22 and 23.
“An event of this caliber puts the city and Markham Pan Am Centre on the map as a go-to for international sports events,” said Clara Grassia, manager of the Markham Pan Am Centre. “The City of Markham is proud of its rich sporting heritage and values a strong sporting culture that promotes inclusion and accessibility. This sporting culture includes the sport of dance, in its various forms.”
DanceSport, also known as ballroom dancing, has been part of the World Games since 1997 and has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be a part of the 2024 Olympic Games.
The centre was designed to host the badminton, table tennis, and water polo events for the 2015 Pan American Games.
“The Markham Pan Am Centre is a premier sports complex ideally suited for hosting international sports events and high-performance athlete training with an Olympic-sized pool meeting FINA (International Swimming Federation) standards, a 36,000 gymnasium that can be transformed to support multiple sports, meeting and multi-purpose rooms with audio and video equipment, and an experienced team of sport event specialists,” added Grassia.
The Pan Am Centre hosts over 100 events each year. Its event calendar is consistently booked at least one year in advance for sporting events of varying calibre, including high-performance international events like the WDSF World Championships. The centre also regularly hosts workshops for athletes, coaches, and officials.
Billy Pang, MPP for Markham-Unionville, attended the event on behalf of the Hon. Neil Lumsden, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. The ministry awarded DanceSport Grand Prix Canada with a Sport Hosting Program grant.
The program provides project-based funding for various summer and winter amateur sport events in Ontario at national and international levels. Not only does it help to create a culture that values sport and contributes to athlete development, but it also encourages the establishment and growth of legacies for amateur sport and local communities throughout the province.
“Sport contributes to better health, community pride, and a strong economy. We work collaboratively with the sport and recreation sector to promote, support, and increase opportunities for all Ontarians to participate in sport and recreation, from playground to podium,” said Pang.
This is the third year Celebrate Markham has awarded DanceSport Grand Prix a municipal grant through its program that funds not-for-profit groups and organizations for sports events, festivals, and cultural activities held in the City of Markham.
Destination Markham is another supporter of DanceSport Grand Prix Canada.
“In collaboration with Destination Markham, we continually source events that are ideally suited for the Markham Pan Am Centre and can be added to our already busy event schedule.”
Grassia explained that events like the DanceSport World Championships are opportunities for sports tourism in the City of Markham and surrounding areas.
“Athletes and officials come from all over the world and stay in hotels, frequent restaurants, and other businesses during their stay,” said Grassia.
“Markham-Unionville has diversified food, restaurants, stores, services, businesses, and facilities that can serve athletes and spectators from different parts of the world and make them feel at home,” said Pang.
He added that the sport and recreation sector contributed an estimated $2.2 billion to Ontario’s economy and accounted for approximately 33,000 jobs in 2020.
DanceSport Grand Prix Canada is a not-for-profit organization. Any proceeds from the championship event will support the Smiles Foundation “Smiles in Action” program, the Youth Educational Sport and Dance Organization, and to support sport development programs through Canada DanceSport.
Photo: Competitors take the floor at the 2022 World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) World Championship Professional Standard held at the Markham Pan Am Centre on Oct.22 and 23.