Thunder Bay, Ont., has officially kicked off its bid to host a multi-sport winter competition for Special Olympics athletes from across Canada.
The northwestern Ontario city is vying to host the 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games, and organizers are appealing to the community for help.
City council unanimously endorsed the idea in May.
“We think if we can all get behind these games in the next couple weeks, and people can support us, and we can really share it on social media, we can show them that Thunder Bay really wants this,” said Julie Tilbury, the bid committee’s vice chair.
A crowd filled the front foyer at city hall on Tuesday for the announcement, where organizers unveiled a website where people can sign up to volunteer for the games. In addition, officials encouraged people to use the hashtag, #getthegames, to “demonstrate Thunder Bay’s community support for the Games to Special Olympics Canada,” the city said in a news release.
The national winter Special Olympics are held every four years with athletes competing in a variety of events, such as alpine and cross-country skiing, bowling, curling and figure skating.
“We’re talking about more than 1,200 athletes that will come from across the country,”
Bidding to host the games wouldn’t require the city to build any additional facilities, city administration has said, and hotels are expected to serve as an athletes village and event headquarters.
Hosting the games would cost the city $300,000, according to city staff, with the rest of the estimated $1.5 million price tag being covered by registration fees, grants, sponsorships and local fundraising and by a contribution from Special Olympics Canada.
The benefits to the city, however, would be numerous, said Paul Burke, Thunder Bay’s special events developer.
“We’re talking about more than 1,200 athletes that will come from across the country,” he said, adding that the overall economic impact is expected to exceed $5.4 million.
“This event is three times the size of the provincial games we hosted in 2011,” he said.
Site visits by representatives from Special Olympics Canada are scheduled for the first week of July, with a host expected to be chosen July 28.