BOZEMAN — The 2021 Summer Games for the Special Olympics is just around the corner, but it was announced Wednesday those games, once again, will be virtual.
“We’re disappointed that we’re not going to be able to host the 1,000-plus athletes and their coaches and families," said volunteer Tory Atkins. "However, we’ve pivoted in the last month and got real creative in how we think we can take the Games statewide and still, as a Bozeman community and as a volunteer leadership group and local sponsors, still make it feel like it’s the Bozeman Games.”
The Games were supposed to be held in Bozeman and for the second straight year they will have to be virtual due to COVID-19. However, there will still be some big events.
“In Bozeman you’ll still see a big footprint of state Summer Games, so we’re going to be recording an opening ceremony, a closing ceremony, a dance, as well as a final leg with our law enforcement torch run,” said Mandy Patriarche, vice president of outreach at Special Olympics Montana.
It’s technically going virtual, but the Games will still have many participants competing from their hometowns.
“This year, they’re doing it from their home communities, so it’s a real opportunity for those home communities, small rural areas that don’t get to host the state Summer Games, like Miles City or Hamilton or Glasgow, to really unify around our mission and show the athletes in their community that they’re there to support them,” Patriarche said.
Teams will still gather as normal and compete for the gold medal together.
“Our teams will still gather and practice just as they do any normal year. We’re offering five outdoor Olympic-type sports for them to participate in," said Patriarche. "Instead of of coming together and competing, they’re going to tally their scores towards the end of season, putting those into Special Olympics and then we’ll be tallying that from across the state and determining winners from there.”
And the athletes are just happy to be participating.
“Just as long as we get to do something, I don’t care,” said athlete Alison Bowers.