Special Olympics State Summer Games cancelled due to COVID-19

In May 2019, the Torch Run made its way through Spearfish, signaling the start of the South Dakota Special Olympics Summer Games. There will be no Torch Run this year because the South Dakota Special Olympics Summer Games have been cancelled due to COVID-19. Pioneer file photo

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VERMILLION — The Board of Directors of Special Olympics South Dakota (SOSD) has informed the Vermillion Organizing Committee that the 2020 State Summer Games have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The nature of this world-wide crisis is ever-changing, and with the safety of the Special Olympic athletes and volunteers being at the forefront of priorities, it has been decided that the 2020 Special Olympics South Dakota State Summer Games will be cancelled for the year. 

With so much uncertainty and many moving parts, Special Olympics International has determined that rescheduling the event this year is not possible.

“Our State Summer Games is always a really exceptional event for everyone, and we are devastated that we can’t have it this year,” says Darryl Nordquist, president and CEO of Special Olympics South Dakota. “While we are sad to have to cancel, we are looking forward to holding the 2021 State Summer Games in Vermillion next spring.”

Nearly 1,000 people gather for this event every year. In light of current health concerns and following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is in the best interest of everyone to reduce large crowded gatherings and reconvene next year. 

Since the event is not being rescheduled, there will be a longer break for the athletes between events. 

“We here at the VCDC, the volunteers, and especially the athletes look forward to this event all year,” said Nate Welch, Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company president and CEO. “We hope that the year-long wait will amplify the excitement that we will all feel next year, when the State Summer Games returns to Vermillion.”

The Special Olympics South Dakota Summer Games returned to Vermillion in 2019 for the first time in 50 years. 

It was intended that the State Summer Games would be held in Vermillion for two years, and in Spearfish for the following two years and then continuing to alternate between the two locations. With the cancellation of this year’s events, Vermillion will host the event in 2021.

“Hosting the State Summer Games in Vermillion is important to us because it allows the University to connect with the community and create a valuable bond between our athletes and the Special Olympics Athletes,” David Herbster, USD Athletic Director, said. “As Organizing Chair, I am looking forward to bringing this event back in 2021.”

For more information on this event, please contact Megan Davidson, Director of Strategic Communications & Tourism at Megan@VermillionChamber.com or call the VCDC office at (605) 624-5571.

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