COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Special Olympics Ohio (SOOH) has announced the cancellation of the 2020 State Summer Games.
SOOH’s largest event of the year would have brought nearly 3,000 athletes and coaches from every region to the Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus from June 26 to 28 for state-level competition in eight sports: bocce, bowling,cycling, gymnastics, powerlifting, tennis, track & field and vollebyall.
Ohio State University recently announced suspension of all on-campus activities through July 6.
In addition to competitors, the SOOH State Summer Games annually involves more that 1,500 volunteers and attracts approximately 5,000 spectators.
“This is the first time in more than 50 years that Special Olympics Ohio will not hold the State Summer Games. We understand the impact of this is significant for athletes who were planning to compete and who also look forward all year to reuniting with their friends off the playing field,” said Special Olympics Ohio Chief Executive Officer Jessica Stewart. “While this is disappointing, we know that our love of sport does not compare to the importance of protecting the health and safety of our community. We are in this together and we will come out of this together, and stronger.”
“The decision to cancel Summer Games for the first time in the history of Special Olympics Ohio did not come lightly,” added Geoff Kunkler, Chair of the Special Olympics Ohio Board of Directors. “We understand how hard our athletes train to prepare for this even and how much they look forward to it, along with their families and friends. However, given the unprecedented circumstances affecting our community and nation, the leadership within this organization believes it is of paramount importance to protect the safety and wellness of our athletes, coaches and volunteers. We are looking forward to resuming normal activities as soon as it is deemed safe, and are excited for the many competitions and events to come.”
With guidance from Special Olympics International and in alignment with recommendations regarding large public gatherings, SOOH has extended the overall suspension of sports training, competition and all other activities through July 6.
In an effort to keep its more than 20,000 athletes healthy, fit and engaged while formal training is suspended, SOOH has launched a virtual program that includes content such as fitness routines, resources for both physical and mental health and nutrition information.