The Special Olympics New York State Summer Games are scheduled to be held in Ithaca next year and Cortland County expects business at hotels and restaurants, a representative said.
Nearly 2,000 athletes and coaches are expected to take part in the games June 24 to 26, 2022. Statewide, 68,000 athletes take part in the Special Olympics events, including 3,000 from the Southern Tier, which includes Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Tioga and Tompkins Counties, said Casey Vattimo, senior vice president of external relations for Special Olympics New York.
The athletes — which have included Kinsey Henry, 21, of Groton and Anne Norby, 29, of Dryden who ran in Saturday’s Torch Run in Homer to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics — will compete in basketball, bowling, gymnastics, powerlifting, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball.
“My favorite part? I guess, really, just being outdoors, and then to get to interact with different people,” said Henry, 21, a Special Olympian from Groton, who competed in the world Special Olympic games in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in 2019, following the Torch Run on Saturday. “It was really cool to meet people with common interests and get to learn their culture.”
“That would be fantastic for our area,” said Tammy Timmerman, president of Cortland County Tavern and Restaurant Association. “Any time we can get added bonus tourism into Cortland County, it’s good for everybody.”
Ithaca last played host to the Special Olympics in 1992, Vattimo said. The influx of athletes, families and friends will bring tourism into Cortland County, ahead of the summer season, Timmerman said.
Restaurants and hotels will need to plan early.
“While we do not yet have specifics on what the Special Olympics state games will look like, I can say that we are pleased that they have chosen this area as their 2022 host,” said Meghan Lawton, executive director of the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Any time a new event or activity enters the Cortland County market is an exciting time for the entire area.”
The greater Cortland area is well versed in hosting large sporting events, Lawton said.
“Cortland County has a robust history of hosting successful sporting events of all sizes, from the New York Jets camp, to our yearly hosting of the Empire State Senior Games, and varying scholastic sporting events of all sizes,” Lawton said. “In the current climate especially, new events committing to our area are a welcomed opportunity.”