Let the Games Begin! Special Olympics Hosts Opening Ceremony

THUNDER BAY, ON, February 25, 2020 – The Fort William Gardens was full on Tuesday for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020 Opening Ceremony. Athletes, coaches, mission staff, family members, friends, sponsors and volunteers were on hand to mark the start of the 2020 Games with an evening of celebration, entertainment and motivation.

“Our volunteers have been training for this day much like the athletes,” said Doug Henry, Games Manager. “After more than two years of planning and preparing, it is finally time for our vision to come to life. Everyone involved in the Games is beyond thrilled that it has officially begun. We look forward to a great week of competition, fun and moments of pure heart.”

The event kicked off with an athlete parade, featured a blend of song and dance from Studio One, Thunder Mountain and Vibe Academy, and included greetings from Games Chair Barry Streib, Opening Ceremony Sponsor Safeway and Games Presenting Sponsor Newmont Musselwhite. Special guests included City of Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro, Special Olympics Canada Board of Directors Chair Stewart Johnston, Federal Minister of Heritage and Sports the Honourable Steven Guilbeaut, and the Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette.

Aside from the athlete parade, the highlight moment was undoubtedly watching members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run complete the long journey to have the ‘Flame of Hope’ find its home in the Games cauldron, signifying the official start of the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020 presented by Newmont Musselwhite. The cauldron will remain lit until the end of the Games on Saturday.

“We’re excited to welcome the National Games, Special Olympics Canada’s signature sport competition, and all the excitement it is bringing to Thunder Bay,” said Sharon Bollenbach, Special Olympics Canada CEO. “Hundreds of athletes across the country have been working hard and training for months – years even – for this opportunity to compete alongside their peers on the national stage.”

The Opening Ceremony was live streamed thanks to Maverick Entertainment Group and students and faculty from Confederation College’s Digital Media Production program. A recording of the event will be available on the Games website Wednesday.

The entire community of Thunder Bay is encouraged to come out to cheer on the athletes as they compete across the eight official sports at venues around the city until February 29. Events are free to attend.

To stay up-to-date on activities throughout the week, follow the Games Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages @SOCgames2020. For more information, including the competition schedule, daily results, photos and newsletters, visit


About The Games

The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games are a multi-sport national event for athletes with an intellectual disability. The Games will be hosted in Thunder Bay, Ontario from February 25 to 29, 2020 and will welcome over 1,200 athletes, coaches and mission staff from across Canada. The Games will include competition in eight official Special Olympics sports: alpine skiing, five-pin bowling, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating. These national games are the qualifying event for athletes to become members of Team Canada attending the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Learn more at

For more information, please contact:

Ashleigh Quarrell
Media Lead, Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020
Phone: (807) 627-7240

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