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Special Olympics International (SOI) has announced that their next World Winter Games, due to be held in January 2023 in Kazan, Russia, have been cancelled.

Six local athletes were due to compete, in alpine skiing and snowshoeing events, representing Special Olympics Gibraltar. The Games were originally scheduled to take place in 2021 and had already been postponed twice due to Covid-19. 

The ongoing situation in the Ukraine has led to the isolation of Russia in many international sporting arenas, this being the latest of many such events effected, and SOI have stated that they could no longer ensure the effectiveness of the Games or the safety of the Special Olympics athletes and community.

In announcing the cancellation of the Games, SOI stated that persons with an intellectual disability were suffering disproportionately, unfairly and tragically in the Ukraine war, as they have during the pandemic, and called for peace and an end to violence immediately.

Special Olympics Gibraltar athletes still have the next World Summer Games to look forward to in Berlin next year. In the meantime there are smaller, local events such as the Malta Invitational Games in May 2022 when Gibraltar athletes will be amongst 1,000 athletes from 25 countries competing in 6 different sports. There will also be the Special Olympics Gibraltar National Games to be held here in June. 

Cancellation of International Torch Run Final Leg

Following the decision by SOI to cancel the World Winter Games, the International Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics (LETRSO) committee has announced that it will also be cancelling the International Torch Run ‘Final Leg’ due to take place in Kazan.

The Torch Run ‘Final Leg’ is an event held by LETRSO as a prelude to the World Games, in which Runners from participating International LETR programmes, run in a disciplined manner escorting the ‘Flame of Hope’ to the official opening of the International Games as a prelude to the start of the Games. During the course of the Torch Run ‘Final Leg’ the participating International Runners visit various cities of the host nation, spreading the values of Special Olympics and of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, whilst at the same time carrying the ‘Flame of Hope’ to the official opening of the Special Olympics International Games, thus signifying the end of the ‘Final Leg’ Torch Run and the start of the Games.