Special Olympics North Carolina is in the process of determining options and timelines for an appropriate “return to activities” for its athletes, coaches, and volunteers beginning with the fall sports season which we anticipate beginning September 8. Until then, we ask that no in-person sports training or competition take place for the safety of everyone while we wait for pandemic conditions to ease.
We continue to monitor guidance from Special Olympics International (SOI) and the Governor’s Office to determine what activity Special Olympics North Carolina will be able to resume this fall. We want to be intentional in our plans considering the fact that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has included people with disabilities as a population deemed as being at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Special Olympics’ Health data supports the fact that people with ID (intellectual disability) experience higher rates of chronic health conditions that also put them at higher risk of serious illness and poorer outcomes from COVID-19. We acknowledge that not all Special Olympics athletes have underlying health conditions that could put them at risk but our decisions are being made on behalf of everyone, including volunteers. This means that our reopening will likely happen later than the general reopening of the state.
We have decided that large-scale events such as state-level events requiring overnight accommodations, more extensive travel arrangements, and mass gatherings (such as with meal operations), are not possible for 2020. As a result, both the Equestrian Tournament and Fall Tournament are canceled for this year. In addition, competitions usually held out of state at USA or North America levels have all been cancelled for 2020. As we look ahead, our focus is on developing plans for some level of local activity whether it be virtual or as smaller scale in-person activity with appropriate measures taken. The current timeline is to resume this activity by September 2020.
Thank you for your continued support of Special Olympics North Carolina. While we must pause in conducting large scale in-person events in 2020, we do intend to reactivate as appropriate and in coordination with our many partners at the local level. We have thousands of athletes who we are reaching out to, creating resources for, incentivizing and motivating to stay healthy and active during this time.
With safe regards,
Keith L. Fishburne,
President/CEO, Special Olympics North Carolina