Special Olympics Alberta 2021 latest to fall victim to pandemic

"Our communities focus right now needs to be on recovery and regaining stability."

Special Olympics Alberta has announced the postponement of the 2021 Special Olympics Alberta Games. Supplied

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Athletes who have been preparing for the 2021 Special Olympics Alberta Provincial Games will have to wait another two years.

Special Olympics Alberta announced they are cancelling the Special Olympics Alberta Summer Games 2021 originally scheduled to take place from July 9–11 in Strathcona County. Though the games have been cancelled, the organization has come to an agreement with Strathcona County to extend their hosting duties to February 2023.

“COVID-19 has had tremendous social and financial impact on our province. Our communities focus right now needs to be on recovery and regaining stability. Even though the provincial games are a positive force in this rebuilding process, we acknowledge that as strong community partners we have a responsibility to mitigate any further financial and public health strains within our province,” said Special Olympics Alberta Marketing and Communications Manager Kiefer Sutherland. 

Sutherland added the organization is excited to continue the partnership with Strathcona County when the time comes. The focus of the organization in the immediate future will be working with affiliates to support the safe restart of grassroots programs affecting over 3,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities across the province.

“We believe this is the best decision for our athletes and for our host community,” said Johnny Byrne, Special Olympics Alberta CEO. “Strathcona County has been a tremendous partner and we are thrilled to have their unwavering support as we begin our planning for the next provincial games.”

As for the 2023 games, the organization believes the added time they have to work, plan, and access resources will give them the chance to deliver an event to be remembered that year.

Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank said the municipality has a strong partnership he looks forward to building on with the games.

“Strathcona County is pleased to continue our partnership with Special Olympics Alberta and have the opportunity to host the 2023 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming the participants and their families to Strathcona County in February 2023.” 

Special Olympics Alberta is dedicated to enriching the lives of Albertans with intellectual disabilities through the transformative power and joy of sport. Programs cater to all ages and a wide range of abilities for over 3,300 athletes from 140 communities. They provide what is widely considered top-tier sports programming run daily by over 950 volunteers and coaches.

“It has been a wonderful experience working with their team so the decision to stay in Strathcona County for 2023 was an easy one. Although we are disappointed to have to cancel our 2021 provincial games, we look forward to showcasing the county in 2023 and providing our athletes families, and the local community with a memorable games experience,” said Byrne.