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Special Olympics Cancels State Basketball Event

a fence and field with Special Olympics signs.
Special Olympics Illinois
Special Olympics Illinois schedules numerous events for those with developmental disavbilities, such as the one pictured. The organization had planned to bring several thousand people to Bloomington Normal this weekend.

Special Olympics Illinois has canceled its state basketball tournament this weekend in Bloomington-Normal and Peoria.

Spokesperson Chris Winston said the reason is caution over the coronavirus.

"Given the size of the event and the large number of players that play at these competitions, that's why we felt it was necessary to make this decision," said Winston.

The number of athletes alone is about 1,800, said Winston. And when coaches, families, and volunteers are added, the tally is several thousand people.

Winston said the Special Olympics will not reschedule.

"We do the games at Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University. Those facilities are in high demand. Simply rescheduling them for another date is very difficult. Also, with volunteers, when you have an event of this size, it's hard to get that number of volunteers back," said Winston.

Winston said no player or coach is known or suspected of having the coronavirus. The decision is one of caution, he said.

Most of the games would have been in Bloomington-Normal. But the unified championship games were to take place alongside the IHSA boys basketball tourney in Peoria. The IHSA championships will go on as scheduled.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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