The Special Olympics of South Dakota is canceling this weekend’s state basketball tournament in Pierre as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.
It’s also suspending all sports activities in the state until March 31st.
Darryl Nordquist is the President and CEO of the Special Olympics South Dakota. He says the decision to cancel this weekend’s tournament comes after direction from the Special Olympics’ international office.
“Our athletes are perhaps a little more vulnerable to sickness and viruses, and we have some elderly athletes also," Nordquist explains. "So we just really are taking a pretty conservative approach and looking out for the health and safety mainly—and that’s what we always look out for, is the health and safety of our athletes.”
With 26 total events in a year, Nordquist says this weekend’s basketball tournament is cancelled rather than postponed.
“It’s a pretty tight schedule year-round, so it’s hard to really slot something in for a reschedule.”
Nordquist says the cancellation is out of an abundance of caution because basketball is an indoor, contact sport. He says coronavirus cases in neighboring states also played into the decision.
“There was an incedent down in Special Olympics Nebraska basketball event where there was an athlete that did test positive for the coronavirus, so that sparked some heavier awareness also.”
All other sports events under Special Olympics South Dakota are suspended until March 31st, when the organization will reevaluate the risks.