The Niagara Region-hosted Canada Games has been postponed by its organizers for one year to the summer of 2022 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Games were scheduled for Aug. 6-21 next summer across the Niagara Region with events held at various communities including St. Catharines, Welland, Pelham (Fonthill), Port Colbourne, Thorold, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie. Grimsby’s Southward Community Sports Park, in the community of Grassie, is the venue for softball events.
More than 5,000 participants and 4,000 volunteers were expected to participate in the multi-sport event.
An announcement from the Canada Games Council said: “After consulting with the Niagara Region, the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government, have made the difficult decision to postpone next year’s Niagara 2021 Canada Summer Games. The Games were originally scheduled to take place in August 2021 but, due to continued public health concerns relating to the coronavirus pandemic, they will be rescheduled to the summer of 2022.”
The Canada Games are held every two years, alternating between winter and summer, and is considered a top event for amateur sport representing the highest level of national competition for thousands of up-and-coming Canadian athletes.
The Ontario government said it supports the postponement decision and has recommitted a cost-shared investment of $29 million for the construction of new sport facilities currently being built, including the Canada Games Park in Thorold and Henley Rowing Centre in St. Catharines.
Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, raised the issue during Question Period at Queen’s Park on Wednesday with Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
“Minister MacLeod, who visited Niagara in person as recently as Monday, affirmed the support of our government for the games and leadership of the local host society. The Minister and I are committed to the success of the games and continue to look forward to welcoming world-class athletes from across the country to our region in 2022,” said Oosterhoff.
“Not only will this project create an amazing, unforgettable experience for athletes, but the new sport and recreation facilities currently being built, including over $111 million in local legacy infrastructure, will be enjoyed by residents of all ages and abilities for years to come.”
Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley also commented on the postponement: “The 2021 Canada Summer Games has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic, with the coronavirus negatively affecting the timeline for games-related construction projects, the ability to recruit volunteers and the ability to secure vital sponsorship and fundraising dollars. The pandemic has also prevented athletes from training and qualifying in many sports, and the limitations currently in place regarding the gathering of large groups pose numerous challenges. For these reasons, and others, I fully support the host society’s announcement to postpone the 2021 Summer Games until 2022.”
Bradley added: “I believe this delay will not only ensure that Niagara will be ready to successfully host the country, but will also help alleviate some of the financial pressures being felt by the host society and all of the municipal partners. This is a positive decision that will help guarantee that Niagara’s version of the summer games is the best it can possibly be.”
The Games are held every other year, alternating between summer and winter. It is Canada’s largest multi-sport event.
Note: Video provided by MPP Sam Oosterhoff