The Special Olympics Montana State Basketball Tournament will not be held in Butte in 2020.
At least the tournament will not be played in the Mining City in the traditional sense.
Rhonda McCarty, CEO of Special Olympics Montana, announced Monday on the SOMT website that Special Olympians will not be traveling and staying in Butte because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of completely canceling the event, McCarty left open the possibility of some kind of competition in its place. She did not elaborate on those possibilities.
“With Covid-19 concerns ongoing, State Basketball 2020 will need to look different,” McCarty wrote. “Hosting a large-scale event requiring overnight travel does not fit our guidelines of protecting the health and safety of our people. Unfortunately, as much as we want to, we will not be traveling to Butte to participate in a tournament as we know it. Nevertheless, SOMT staff is currently working with our Butte-based Games Management Team to develop alternative competition opportunities that will take place this fall.”
Special Olympics Montana previously canceled all in-person events for the spring and summer because of the coronavirus. With that, the 2020 Virtual State Summer Games were born.
McCarty said the suspension of in-person sport training and competition activities and other programs involving the Special Olympians was extended through July 31.
Aug. 1 will mark the implementation of a phased approach to return to activities for Special Olympics. That phase will focus on the health and safety of the athletes, volunteers, staff and partners.
“As we look to resume operations and activities in this time of Covid-19, Special Olympics is developing guidance on returning to activities founded on the latest medical information available and guidance from organizations such as the World Health Organization and specific health agencies such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” McCarty wrote.
The State Basketball Tournament began what was planned to be a three-year run in Butte last November. The tournament drew more than 1,000 athletes and their families to Butte.