Monday, April 22, 2024

University to house Special Olympics athletes

Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Special Olympics New Zealand Charitable Trust Board that will see the University providing accommodation and services during the Special Olympics 2025 New Zealand National Summer Games.

Ōtautahi Christchurch has secured hosting rights for the Games, which will be held in December next year. The Games happen every four years and will attract more than 1300 athletes from across the country competing in 11 different sports, including swimming, athletics, bowling, and basketball.

In addition to the athletes, over 300 coaches and team management from across the country will attend the National Summer Games, with over 600 volunteers needed to support the delivery of the event.

The University says it will work with its four accommodation partners (UniLodge, Arcady Hall, College House, and Rochester and Rutherford Hall) to use its halls of residence, which will be mostly vacant at that time, to accommodate Special Olympics athletes and support staff. Up to 2,000 rooms will be provided during the event.

There are also plans to set up an athlete village hub within Tupuānuku, UC’s newest hall of residence, which opened in 2021.

UC Kaihautū Matua Pūmanawa Tangata | Executive Director of People, Culture and Campus Life, Paul O’Flaherty says it’s an honour for Christchurch to host such a significant sporting event and the University is delighted to be able to play a part.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Special Olympics athletes and support crew from around the country and contributing to this event’s success,” he says.

“The UC campus will be at the heart of the Games, and we’ll be working hard to create a home away from home for everyone. UC is always keen to engage with the community and support diversity.”

Special Olympics New Zealand Chief Executive, Fran Scholey says the Games are hugely important to participants.

“They will give the athletes and Special Olympics wider community a chance to come together, compete in their chosen sport and celebrate the many achievements on the sports field.”

“They also provide our athletes with many vital health and social opportunities. We encourage Cantabrians to get behind the Games, as a volunteer, spectator, or partner. This is their opportunity to make a real difference.”

The games will be held in a number of the high-quality sporting facilities across the city, including Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub and the new Parakiore Recreation and Sport Centre, due to open in 2025.

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