Posted September 8, 2020
We did not want to have to do this, but we must. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing uncertainty around the future of mass gatherings, Special Olympics BC has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 SOBC Summer Games scheduled for July 2021 in Surrey.
Given the current health circumstances and projections, SOBC does not expect to be able to safely hold an event with the anticipated more than 1,000 participants next summer.
Under ordinary circumstances, now is when we would have been ramping up work with a volunteer Games Organizing Committee to plan the 2021 Provincial Games. It takes months and years of work to plan these multi-sport events. Even if the situation changes early next year, that would still not allow enough time to finish planning the details, raising the funds, and recruiting the volunteers necessary to hold the safe, high-quality, life-enriching Provincial Games that our community deserves.
This was a difficult decision that was made with a lot of thought and consideration, and now we are focusing our efforts on how to bring safe sport back to Special Olympics athletes across B.C.
The SOBC Return to Sport Plan includes working our way back to safe competitions, and SOBC is wholeheartedly committed to finding ways to make competition possible, safely, both through virtual and in-person experiences. We will seek feedback from athletes, coaches, and volunteers, and create meaningful competition that challenges and rewards athletes, while meeting all safety requirements.
With the Return to Sport Plan, SOBC staff are passionately committed to supporting Locals to help safely reactivate in-person programs in their communities. We will continue to seek out and rely on the guidance of the invaluable volunteers around the province who thoughtfully and passionately deliver year-round SOBC programs, and the guidance of our athletes who are so caring about each other and committed to returning to sport.
The City of Surrey and School District No. 36 have been outstanding partners who are truly committed to creating inclusion and empowerment for individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport. While we will be unable to host the SOBC Summer Games in Surrey in 2021, we consider Surrey a great advocate and partner, and will continue to work with the city on enhancing the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport, both in the life-changing year-round SOBC – Surrey programs and in future opportunities.
These unique times have brought so many challenges, but they have also created opportunities. They have brought us together in spirit, and forced us to think outside the box. While it hurts us all to cancel the 2021 SOBC Summer Games, we can all work together to figure out what we can do to compete safely and meaningfully under the current circumstances, and how to bring back and strengthen our vital year-round programs.
To share your feedback, please contact any Special Olympics BC staff member. We are here for you and want to hear from you.
What’s happening in the rest of the Special Olympics summer competition cycle?
- The 2021 Special Olympics BC Summer Games would have been the qualifier for the 2022 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games. Due to the pandemic and its impact on priorities and resources, the 2022 SOC Summer Games in Medicine Hat have been cancelled, and Special Olympics Canada will be devoting their attention to renewing and enhancing grassroots programs. Please click here for more information from SOC
- SOC and the 12 Provincial/Territorial Chapters are committed to exploring alternative, cost-effective competition opportunities that comply with health and safety guidelines.
- Maintaining a pathway to the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 remains a goal – as long as it is safe to do so and financial resources are available. SOC is committed to exploring alternative competition formats that will ensure a quality selection process for Special Olympics Team Canada 2023. Please click here for more information from SOC's FAQs
What’s happening in the Special Olympics winter competition cycle?
- Special Olympics Canada is planning to announce the names of Special Olympics Team Canada in November 2020.
- Much has already been invested in the journey to the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Kazan. Athletes competed with pride in 2018 Regional Qualifiers, 2019 Provincial/Territorial Games, and the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay. The athletes have trained, competed and earned the opportunity to see the final step of their journey fulfilled.
- We are grateful that SOC’s National Team Program and the participation of Special Olympics Team Canada at the World Games are primarily funded by Sport Canada.
- Taking all of this into consideration, Special Olympics Canada, together with the Chapters, has made the decision to proceed with the National Training Program and participation at the Special Olympics World Winter Games Kazan 2022. With COVID-19 restrictions, training will have to be modified to ensure that athletes are able to properly train and prepare.
- SOC will continue to monitor COVID-19 health and safety protocols related to training, travel and large gatherings. If, for any reason, Special Olympics Canada deems that the safety of our athletes, volunteers and staff is at risk either in the lead-up to or while at the Games, SOC will withdraw Special Olympics Team Canada from the 2022 World Games.
- Please click here for more information from SOC