The future of the Taranaki Masters Games is in jeopardy if athletes shy away from this year's event.
Taranaki Electricity Trust chairman Brian Jeffares said the trust could stop funding and managing the event if there wasn't enough community buy-in.
Mr Jeffares said registrations so far were "startlingly poor" and it looked like the region was voting with it's feet.
Last year the TET began managing as well as sponsoring the event, which has run since 1995.
The first was hosted in Hawera and it attracted close to 1500 competitors in 33 sporting codes.
This year there are only about 640 entrants so far, a 20 per cent drop on the year before.
"Last year we had an increase in numbers and we were happy to support it again," Mr Jeffares said.
"Now if we get a report this year that says we were 20 per cent down I suspect the trustees will choose not to bother with it any more.
"We wouldn't want to spend money on something the community doesn't want.
"It simply becomes a case of flogging a dead horse, and if it does, we won't."
He said the trust received between 300 to 400 funding requests annually and the amount they spend on the games, about $40,000, could be given to other organisations that the community clearly needed.
The games are held from March 14 to 17. They centre on Stratford but events are also held around the province.
Mr Jeffares said the success of the event relies on sporting codes supporting it.
He said volunteers pour their heart and soul into the event and if they dropped it they would be nothing short of devastated.
"They do an amazing job and for them it would be soul-destroying."
The games cater for everyone, from those wanting to give a sport a try, to those who are striving to win a medal.
Ages differ to start in the various sports - for swimming it's 20 and for the likes of athletics, basketball, darts, pistol shooting and running it's 30.
Entries close on March 4.
- Taranaki Daily News
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