Sporting event for youth with intellectual disabilities may draw 2,500 to Toronto next year

Police Chief Mark Saunders has been named honorary chair of Invitational Youth Games

About 2,500 student athletes and their coaches from around the world are expected to descend on Toronto in May 2019 for the first-ever Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games.

Toronto will act as the host city for the sporting competition, which is scheduled to run from May 14 to 17, 2019.

Athletes, aged 13 to 21 and with or without intellectual disabilities, are expected to take part. The Toronto Police Service has been named the host organization.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, named honorary chair of the games, said the police are proud to host the event.

“For decades, law enforcement in Toronto, and around the world, has been an active advocate, fundraiser, and supporter of Special Olympics,” Saunders said in a news release on Tuesday.

Students to compete in 5 sports

The students will compete in five sports: basketball, bocce, floor hockey, track and field, and soccer.

All five sports will have two types of team divisions: a traditional division, where athletes on the team have intellectual disabilities; and a unified division, where athletes with and without and intellectual disabilities will be able to compete on the same team.

Each sport will be broken down into multiple ability divisions, where athletes will be able to compete against those of similar ability levels.

The games are part of a year-long, worldwide celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. The celebration runs from June 2018 to June 2019.

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