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Under the direction of Special Olympics North Carolina the decision has been made to cancel the Fall Tournament, which was to have been held in early November 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Special Olympics athletes have already suffered the loss of all Spring sports activities, including the Spring Games (our equivalent to Highland Games), and the always highly anticipated Summer Games. Approximately 80 Special Olympics athletes from Avery County were not able to engage in track and field events as well as in softball skills and swimming competitions. The loss of the Fall Tournament impacts athletes who were able to compete in bocce, golf and basketball skills.

“We continue to monitor guidance from Special Olympics International and the Governor’s Office to determine what activity SONC will be able to resume in this calendar year,” Keith Fishburne, President and CEO of SONC said. “We want to be intentional in our plans considering the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 intellectual disabilities 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.”

Since the larger state level events require overnight accommodations, mass gatherings and meal preparations, it would be difficult to enforce the CDC guidelines for safety. While it might be possible to hold some smaller events, that decision won’t be made by SONC until July 22, 2020.

If SONC receives approval from Special Olympics North America, athletes could begin practice sessions with a possibility of local competition on or about September 8. This assumes that practice areas are open and available at that time. Without this permission, online virtual training could be developed with journaling and record keeping. Coaches from Avery County for bocce, golf and basketball skills have expressed their willingness to gear up quickly depending on which scenario is presented. Any athlete will be welcomed to participate.

An update that will detail any Special Olympics activities to be made available in September will be presented in late July or early August. As always, Special Olympics Avery County acknowledges the many individual benefactors with special thanks to the High Country Charitable Foundation and Classic Stone Works. For more information call SO Avery County Coordinator Barb Holdcroft at (828) 733-8416.

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