The year 2024 will be a big one for the city of Calgary as it prepares to host the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.
Securing the event is a “proud” moment for Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who noted the city is excited to share its “great facilities and our inclusive community spirit” to welcome all those who attend the event with open arms.
“I know Calgarians will volunteer in great numbers to ensure that this event delivers the experience of a lifetime for these amazing athletes and their families.”
Calgary is no stranger to hosting sporting events, being the first Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics, and having recently played host to the Special Olympics Alberta Winter Provincial Games in 2019.
The city’s successful history with these large-scale events has instilled a certain level of confidence in Special Olympics Canada CEO Sharon Bollenbach.
“Having previously hosted international and national events, we know Calgary will go above and beyond to deliver an exceptional games experience for the hundreds of athletes participating at Special Olympics Canada’s signature sports competition,” Bollenbach said.
“Our athletes have been anxiously waiting for an announcement of the next national games since February of 2020.
“To say they will be ecstatic to hear the news of Special Olympics Canada Winter Games 2024 in Calgary is an understatement.”
Calgary was able to secure the title as host for the upcoming event thanks to a strong bid focused on “the care and comfort of our athletes,” said Special Olympics Canada’s vice-president of sport Blair McIntosh.
“The bid was centred on the concept of showcasing the games in the heart of the city,” McIntosh said.
“This will not only be a great opportunity for our athletes to experience all that Calgary has to offer but will also place our athletes in the heart of the community, where we can witness inclusion in full effect.”
As hundreds of athletes prepare to qualify for the opportunity to compete on the national stage, Catriona Le May Deon, president and CEO of Sport Calgary, said she couldn’t be more excited to celebrate these diverse athletes, right here in Calgary.
“Calgary is a city with a strong commitment to providing diverse opportunities in sport to individuals of all abilities,” retired speed skating Olympic champion Deon, who is also a member of the Special Olympics Canada’s board of directors, said.
“Sport connects us all and we’re excited to bring this amazing event to our city.”
With 1,300 participants coming to the city, as well as officials, honoured guests and friends and family, Tourism Calgary is predicting the event to inject more than $9 million into the local economy.
“Calgary knows what it takes to host large-scale sporting events and just as important is our track record as ultimate hosts,” CEO of Tourism Calgary Cindy Ady said.
“The incredible athletes, along with family, friends, supporters, coaches and officials can all expect a warm welcome to our city and a fun-filled event complete with the chance to experience Calgary’s new winter festival, Chinook Blast.”
The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games is a national sporting event for Canadian athletes with an intellectual disability. To compete, each athlete must first qualify at their local and provincial or territorial levels.
The 2024 Games will see eight sports featured throughout the event: five-pin bowling, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating.
The winter games in Calgary will be the qualifying event for athletes to represent Canada at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2025.