The Toronto Police Service is the host organization and Chief Mark Saunders is the honourary chair for the first-ever Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games (IYG) from May 14-17, 2019 in the city.
The Games will be part of the year-long 50th anniversary global Special Olympics celebration.
A total of 2,500 participants from around the world will take part in the Games.
Chief Saunders said the Service is extremely proud of its history and commitment to Special Olympics through the Law Enforcement Torch Run.
“For decades, law enforcement in Toronto and around the world has been an active advocate, fundraiser and supporter of Special Olympics,” he said. “It is with the utmost pride that the Toronto Police Service will host these Games and bring their powerful unifying message to life.”
The Torch Run is the major fundraiser for Special Olympics Ontario, a registered charitable organization that provides fitness, recreation and competitive programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Retired Chief Jack Marks and Constable Lorne White organized the inaugural Torch Run in Canada in 1987. It brought together runners from 36 law enforcement agencies. They covered nearly 900 kilometres before lighting the flame at Varsity Arena to kick off the International Floor Hockey tournament.
Mayor John Tory, also a member of the Toronto Police Services Board, said the city is ready to welcome the athletes and officials from around the world.
“Toronto is known as a world-class destination for culture, sports and tourism and as a welcoming city that embodies and embraces diversity and inclusion,” he said. “It’s incredibly fitting these Games will bring together our great city across multiple venues in celebration of athletes from around the world.”
The IYG will feature basketball, bocce, floor hockey, track and field and soccer.
In addition to the sports competition, athletes can take part in the Healthy Athletes program, a worldwide initiative that provides screening and education across seven different health disciplines with the overall goal of increasing the health and well-being of Special Olympics athletes.
“There’s no other forum like the Youth Games, said IYG advisory committee chair Brian Etherington. “Athletes, with and without intellectual disabilities, will benefit from a unique model which allows them to compete against peers while creating lasting memories and friendship in and out of sport. These Games will help chart a new and exciting future for the movement.”
For further information, please contact Sergeant Michael Puterbaugh firstname.lastname@example.org at 416-808-2019.