OTTAWA 2021 MASTERS INDIGENOUS GAMES POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19
COVID-19 dampens Ottawa’s plans to host the 2021 Masters Indigenous Games, but does not extinguish the spirit of the Games.
Algonquin Territory – Ottawa, Ontario – December 18, 2020 – Organizers for the 2021 Masters Indigenous Games (MIG), in partnership with the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism, announced Friday the postponement of the event given the continued impact of COVID-19 cases, and restrictions regarding international travel and in-person sport competitions. In consideration for the health and wellness of participants and communities, and to maintain the spirit of the event, which is focused on bringing communities together through the celebration of sport and culture, Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (the rights holder of the Masters Indigenous Games) made the difficult decision to postpone the 2021 Games.
“It was an extremely difficult decision to postpone the 2021 MIG,” said Marc Laliberte, President of Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario. “As an international event showcasing Indigenous sport and culture, we had thousands of athletes, families and communities from around the world who were looking forward to training and attending next summer – especially after months in lockdown with limited opportunities to participate in cultural activities and sport competitions. However, as an organization, we felt that the health and safety of participants and communities, and the integrity of the event, would be compromised if we moved forward with hosting amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are fortunate to have great partners like the Algonquin Nation, City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism, who truly ‘embody the spirit’ of the MIG and continue to provide support and encouragement, as we look to reschedule.”
Hosted and developed by Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (the designated Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body for Ontario), the MIG provides Indigenous adults aged 20 years and older, the opportunity to compete against their peers in a variety of contemporary and traditional sporting activities. The Games bring together thousands of Indigenous athletes from around the world to compete in sport competitions, celebrate Indigenous wellness, and showcase the rich diversity of cultures and traditions of the world’s Indigenous Peoples.
“Health is such an important component of the Masters Indigenous Games that it would be incongruous to proceed with so many unknowns,” said Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism. “We look forward to hosting this prestigious event when conditions permit.”
ISWO had originally announced an agreement with the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism, which included support for the hosting of an Ontario Indigenous Summer Games and two editions of the MIG, one in 2021 and a second, larger event in 2023. The 2021 MIG was set to be featured as the ‘Indigenous event of the year’ for the City of Ottawa. A new schedule of dates for the MIG will be identified and communicated publicly, once details are confirmed.
Recent news has seen a string of cancellations and postponements for major games, festivals and cultural events around the world that were originally scheduled to take place in 2021, such as the 2021 World Masters Games in Kansai, Japan. The uncertainty of the situation leaves many in the sport and event world looking for alternative avenues and hoping for better days ahead. While ISWO has been able to pivot as an organization – moving many of its programs online or finding ways to continue to support community sport and wellness through out of the box ideas and initiatives – a major Games with a focus on community, connection, culture and celebration, is something that needs to be done in person. That doesn’t mean that MIG organizers are sitting idly by; plans are underway to host a variety of virtual and online challenges, competitions and events that individuals can participate in from the comfort of their own homes. The emphasis will be on staying active, building skills and focusing on training, until that day that athletes and communities are able to come together again, united in their love of sport and the celebration of who they are as Indigenous Peoples.
About the Masters Indigenous Games
The Masters Indigenous Games were founded by Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario (ISWO) to meet the growing need for competitive sport for the aging population. The Games encourage mature individuals to be active, with the awareness that competitive sport can continue throughout life, contributing to increased health and wellness. The inaugural MIG took place in Toronto, Ontario from July 12-15, 2018, providing an opportunity for Indigenous adults from around the world to engage in sport competition with their peers.
For more information about Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario, please visit iswo.ca.
For more information about the Masters Indigenous Games, please visit www.mastersindigenousgames.ca.
ISWO honours the traditional lands and homelands of all Indigenous Peoples and communities across the province of Ontario, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis living both on and off reserve, in rural and urban communities.