The Canada Summer Games will not be held in Niagara next summer.
The host company for the 2021 Canada Games has voted to postpone events scheduled for next August until 2022, ensuring that when events take place in the region they will live up to expectations, said organization president Doug Hamilton.
“I think it’s a timely and prudent decision. It was a tough decision, but I think it’s the right decision to take right now, ”he said on Wednesday.
Hamilton said the Canada Games Council voted unanimously on Friday to postpone the games, pending the decision of the Niagara-based 2021 Canada Games host company.
The local group met on Wednesday morning “and also unanimously approved the postponement until 2022”, he added.
“The decision, although it was taken by the Board of Directors, was made in collaboration with many of our stakeholders who were also in favor of this decision.
The Niagara region and the provincial and federal governments were also consulted.
Hamilton said the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed some of the preparation efforts for the events, and although construction work on the Canada Games Park near Brock University continues, at best the facility is not would be “ready for the Games” only at the time of the events. took place.
“They (the facilities) weren’t going to be completely ready for the 2021 Games anyway. Now they will be,” he said.
“In other areas we have made great progress, but some areas like the community engagement program for our events and sponsorships have been slowed down by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, there were concerns about the availability of Canadian athletes capable of participating in national sporting events, due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021.
Had the organization of the Games continued with plans to host events in 2021, Hamilton said it likely would not have lived up to expectations of attracting 5,000 participants and 4,000 volunteers to take part in the country’s largest multisport event.
“If we were to host the Games next summer, there would initially have been a concern about the health and safety of participants. This allows us to reduce that uncertainty and in two years we all hope that we will be in a much better position for the participants and spectators attending the Games, ”he said.
“It would have hampered our ability to harness the extraordinary Games experience for all participants and spectators, and we really want to do that.”
The decision to delay the events for a year “will allow us to recover and host the phenomenal Games that we all hope to host,” Hamilton said.
In a statement, region president Jim Bradley offered his support for the postponement.
“The 2021 Canada Summer Games were not immune to the effects of the pandemic, with the coronavirus negatively affecting the timeline of Games-related construction projects, the ability to recruit volunteers and the ability to obtain vital sponsorship and fundraising funds, ”he told me.
“The pandemic has also prevented athletes from training and qualifying in many sports, and the limitations currently in place on bringing large groups together pose many challenges.
Bradley said the delay “will not only ensure that Niagara is ready to welcome the country successfully, but will also help alleviate some of the financial pressures felt by the host company and all municipal partners.
He called it a “positive decision” that will help ensure that the Summer Games will be “the best it can be.”
Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff discussed the postponement at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, highlighting Ontario’s $ 29 million investment, cost-shared with the federal government, as well as its continued commitment to the events .
“Being an athlete during COVID-19 is not an easy task,” he said. “Ontario is home to some of the greatest athletes in the world who have performed at some of the highest levels of competition.
Tourism, Culture and Sports Minister Lisa MacLeod said the safety of attendees was a top priority.
“Therefore, I will support the Canada Games Council if it decides to postpone these Games and we will commit as the Government of Ontario to continue these Games in 2022 if necessary,” she said. declared.
Hamilton said the break will allow organizers to relax in some of the areas where they have been successful in anything but finalizing preparations for the events and refocusing efforts on preparations that have been delayed.
“We are going to continue fully because the extra year will allow us to do a lot better,” he said. “It gives us a sigh of relief. While it’s disappointing, it gives us that extra lead and we can’t wait to use it to make the Games even more phenomenal.
The postponement will not affect future Canada Games events.
The Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island will continue as planned in early 2023.