Event had been scheduled for next July in Lloydminster
It was a tough day for many of the top athletes around the province Monday.
The Saskatchewan Games Council, City of Lloydminster and the Lloydminster Host Society jointly announced that the 2021 Saskatchewan Summer Games had been called off due to health and safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
“After we postponed the games in April, we never dreamed that we would be in a situation where we would have to make another decision as to whether the games would actually go ahead,” Saskatchewan Games Council executive director Mark Bracken said.
“Based on the where things are at now with the pandemic and the real unpredictable nature of things right now, it just wasn’t clear that we could provide a safe and healthy environment for the participants, the citizens of Lloydminster and everyone involved. This was a joint decision by all of the stakeholders after we closely monitored the situation over the last eight months.”
The event was originally scheduled to be held in July 2020, but was pushed back to next summer as a result of the pandemic.
“We all feel for the athletes that were gearing up to complete and were all excited to take part in the games,” Bracken said. “One of the challenges with the event now moving ahead to 2024, there’s a four-year gap between the Summer Games and it’s highly unlikely that the athletes who were eligible to compete in 2020 will be able to take part in 2024, unless they are a younger competitor.
“All of the stakeholders that were involved in this decisions are extremely disappointed that the games can’t go ahead, but health and safety our are number one priority and we can’t guarantee that right now. Plus, with sports not being close to back to normal, we all felt it was wise to act sooner rather than later and have everyone in a panic come springtime.”
In Monday’s announcement, it was revealed that the City of Lloydminster has been provided the right of first refusal to host the Summer Games in four years time.
“We had a really good meeting with the city officials this morning where we talked through some of the timelines and we’re hoping to know their decision by June 1 of next year,” Bracken said.
“The City of Lloydminster had invested so much time and so much community effort into pull these games off and they were just three months away from happening when we first moved the date back. I think we all hope that they can have the chance to see things through in 2024, but it’s a little too early to announce anything yet.”
In the meantime, the Saskatchewan Games Council is working on plans for the 2022 Winter Games, which will be held in Regina.
“That will mark the 50th anniversary of the games so it’s a special milestone event for us,” Bracken said.
“It will probably look a little different than in previous years, but we’re really hopeful that with COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out and the pandemic hopefully slowing down, we will be able to hold the Winter Games as scheduled.”