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Alabama State Games canceled due to COVID-19

Alabama State Games canceled due to COVID-19

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The Alabama State Games, rescheduled for July 31-Aug. 2, have been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Alabama State Games President and CEO Ron Creel and Vice President and Executive Director Dean Kelly informed civic leaders in the Wiregrass of the decision on a conference call Wednesday.

“Earlier today our longtime medical director, Dr. James Robinson, told us he did not feel we could safely do the Games at this point in time,” Kelly said.

Creel added that Dr. Robinson said it was impossible to medically test between 4,000 and 5,000 athletes spread out at different venues over three counties.

“That’s the meat in the coconut right there,” Creel said.

Originally slated for June 12-14, the Olympic-style games annually attract athletes from throughout the state to compete in more than 25 sports. The regional event is hosted by the cities of Dothan, Ozark and Enterprise, and Houston, Dale and Coffee counties.

Organizers had hoped pushing the original date back would allow for more time to contain the coronavirus.

“Of course, it’s actually going up instead of down right now,” Kelly said. “We’re canceling the Games for this year. We will be back in 2021 (June 11-13) and in 2022 (June 10-12) — with an option for a third year in the Wiregrass.”

Kelly said the call with the city mayors and chairmen of the Dale, Houston and Coffee County commissions, as well as the leadership at Visit Dothan, wasn’t easy to make.

“The Wiregrass has been really good to us. Dothan, Ozark, Enterprise and Daleville were all very, very cooperative. We were disappointed to have to tell them this, but we are going to be back,” Kelly said.

Creel added that the preregistration numbers had organizers expecting about 5,000 athletes for the Games.

“We had registered a number of people from Florida and Georgia, being down there so close to Dothan,” Creel said.

Kelly said all entry fees would be returned to anyone who had already paid.

“That’s something we’ll be working on. We’ll start on Monday, July 20, writing those checks,” Kelly said.

Billy Powell, Enterprise Parks & Recreation Director, said he understood the decision.

“They communicated with the experts and the experts advised them this was going to be the best situation for them and we respect that,” Powell said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hold this is 2020, but fortunately, we have next year to host these State Games and for 2022, also.

“You want people to be safe. They’re making the best decision and we stand behind them. We appreciate them letting us know now. We’re still a couple weeks out, but a decision had to be made. It’s a tough one, unfortunately. We’re excited that we’re going to get to do this next year.”

Powell said Enterprise was scheduled to host the girls fast pitch softball tournaments, the track and field was to be held at Enterprise High School, which was also going to host the indoor air rifle shooting competition. Enterprise was also to host the wrestling competition.

“We have to be patient and pray that everything will get better so we can get back to what everybody loves doing best — being outdoors and playing sports and enjoying a quality of life,” Powell said.

Creel and Kelly said level of cooperation with the cities and counties had been “outstanding.”

“It couldn’t be any better,” Creel said. “To be honest with you, this was going to be my last State Games. I was going to retire. Now, I’ve got to think about it. This is not the way I wanted to go out.

“We’re greatly disappointed, but we’re adding another year on to our commitment because of the great cooperation we’ve had. And the recreation departments, the employees in those cities and counties, and the volunteers have been so great to work with. We don’t want to do this, but we have no choice.”

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