The Special Olympics NZ board has been forced to postpone its National Summer Games, which were to be held in Hamilton in early December.
The games, which are for athletes with intellectual disabilities, will now be held next year.
The news has disappointed local teams who were well into their preparations. Two teams of 10 Pin Bowlers, two aquatics competitors and one equestrian were to take part.
CoachKathy Woomack, whose daughter Jessica is in a bowling team, says while they are gutted to have the event postponed to 2022, the delay will allow them to improve their skills with more training time.
“One silver lining is that perhaps a few more athletes can qualify so we can take a few more next year,” she says.
In making the difficult decision, the Special Olympics NZ board stressed that the wellbeing of the athletes and volunteers was key. It was also important for clubs throughout the country to be able to participate and that preparation for all was on a level playing field. That was not possible unless NZ was at Level 1.
“Delta has been a game changer. The higher level of infection, requirement for masks, and long tail all create greater uncertainty. We know that hugs and high fives are big part of engaging with our athletes and social distancing would be totally impossible to manage,” the board’s release to athletes says.