TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Leaders with Special Olympics Indiana say their 2020 Summer Games will be held virtually, due to COVID-19.
For the past 50 years, athletes with Special Olympics Indiana have had the opportunity to compete in the organization’s Summer Games in Terre Haute.
It’s an event that organizers consider one of the most important events for participants.
“To be able to go to Rose-Hulman and Indiana State University is a chance to get away from home, it’s a chance to go on vacation, it’s a chance to go to college, it’s a chance to see friends they haven’t seen for a year,” said Jeff Mohler, Special Olympics Indiana president.
Due to concerns over COVID-19, this year’s games will not take place in-person.
Mohler says Special Olympics Indiana is planning for virtual games instead.
“Instead of just a weekend event though, we are expanding this to be a five week sport and fitness challenge,” Mohler said.
Mohler says the virtual games will encourage athletes to take part in a number of activities virtually.
Videos of the athletes participating will then be shared with the community.
“It could be just playing bocce with their family, it could be just running up and down the street doing 50 meter dashes,” Mohler said.
There are also plans for a virtual opening ceremony on Friday June 12th, the original date that the event was scheduled to begin.
“We’re going to have law enforcement agencies from across the state do a virtual torch run in which they’ll simulate running the torch towards Terre Haute,” Mohler said.
Local leaders with Special Olympics say they believe the virtual games will be important for everyone moving forward.
“A lot of our folks have been doing a lot of different virtual activities. Well, adding the sports component and still being able to have some interaction and engagement. I think it’s going to do everybody a world of good,” said Jodi Moan, Special Olympics- Vigo County coordinator.
Mohler says athletes will earn points for their involvement which will be tallied for a county-by-county competition.
On July 25th, there will be a virtual closing and award ceremony.
Special Olympics Indiana has suspended all in-person competitions and activities through June.