The mood around Red Deer is electric as the community gets set for day one of competition at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, according to the event’s lead official.
“We had just an unbelievable opening ceremonies last night to a full house and an excited group of athletes from across the country,” Scott Robinson, the CEO of the Games, said in an interview Saturday on Global News Morning.
“We’re ready to get going.”
The Games kicked off Saturday morning with a slate of table tennis matches at Westerner Park. The last competition is scheduled to be held on March 2, with the closing ceremonies taking place the next day.
More than 3,600 athletes, coaches and managers will take part in the 17-day event, according to organizers. The young athletes will face off in 19 different sports.
Robinson said that the event helps develop youth athletes in Canada because the competition is set up similar to the Olympic Games.
“They stay in an athlete’s village, they’re all competing in their various sports, but they’re also part of a bigger team with the other sports in their province,” Robinson said.
“They really get a taste of what the next level looks like.”
However, athletics aren’t the only part of the event, according to Robinson. He pointed out that there is a major arts and cultural festival going on throughout the Games in downtown Red Deer.
“We’ve actually built a beautiful celebration plaza that was part of our capital projects to create a celebration space in downtown Red Deer,” Robinson said.
“We’ve got some major entertainment acts coming here over the next two weeks to entertain the people from Red Deer and of course from across Canada that are here to celebrate these Games.”
The downtown plaza is one of a number of projects and renovations that was made in preparation for the Games. The event also spurred the construction of the $88-million Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
The last Canada Games were held in Winnipeg, Man., while the 2021 edition of the event will be held in Ontario’s Niagara region.