Special Olympics Maine suspends activities through March due to virus concerns

Wed, 03/11/2020 - 2:30pm

    Special Olympics Programs worldwide have been very strongly advised by Special Olympics International to suspend all sports training and competition activities involving their athletes through March 31, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated.

    Due to the growing concerns surrounding COVID-19, Special Olympics Maine has made the difficult decision to suspend all sports, training and competition activities through the end of the month.

    “This is a difficult time that calls for tough decisions,” said Phil Geelhoed, president and CEO of Special Olympics Maine. “The health, welfare and safety of our athletes is of the utmost importance to us.”

    Special Olympics Maine serves nearly 5,000 children and adults who have intellectual disabilities, and offers 75 events each year at the local, regional and state level.

    “This decision was not an easy one to make” said Lisa Bird, director of public relations for Special Olympics Maine. “Canceling events has a huge impact on our staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to organize them and is even tougher on our athletes who have been training, preparing and looking forward for weeks to compete. Many of our athletes are considered to be part of a vulnerable population due to age or compromised immune systems and we are just not willing to take the chance of anyone getting sick.”

    Special Olympics Maine will be offering tips and best practices for athletes to continue their training at home over the coming weeks.

    The following is a statement that was released to the Special Olympics Community by Special Olympics Maine President/CEO Phil Geelhoed:

    “The health, wellness and safety of our athletes, and our entire Special Olympic community, is of the utmost importance to all of us. We are facing some very difficult and challenging times with regard to the Coronavirus and it’s spread around the world. Ever since this threat became a reality here in the United States, we have been in constant contact with SOI, SONA, The CDC and Departments of Health here in Maine.

    “An updated memo was distributed to all Special Olympic Programs yesterday at 5:15 p.m., from the CEO of Special Olympics, Inc; Mary Davis. Based on the directive in the memo, and the actions of every program in our region, as well as programs across the country and around the world, we have SUSPENDED all SOME sport training and competition activities through March 31st. Prior to that date, the situation will be reevaluated for further action. The memo goes on to allow Fundraising events that DO NOT include our athletes (as we serve those who are considered part of a vulnerable population… a population where many are at a heightened risk due to age and/or compromised immune systems) to proceed at the discretion of each Program (so long as Programs carefully assess the risk in collaboration with local, state, national health agencies.)

    Needless to say this decision does not come as an easy one. These actions are necessary to ensure that we are doing everything we can to prevent transmission of the virus. We have prepared a list of frequently asked questions that you can reference on the topic of virus prevention and control. So we ask that you accept (and follow) this request in the spirit for which it is intended. We are here to support you and want everyone to be safe. You must also PLEASE note that Special Olympics Maine will not be in a position to support (defend) any outcomes from any activities held in the name of SOME, for which adverse outcomes may arise (ie; someone contracting the virus while attending said activity, etc).

    Please share this information with your athletes, coaches, families, etc. If you have a member of your SO community test positive for the virus, please notify us immediately. And as always, if you have additional questions and/or concerns, please contact our office. Thank you.