August 6-21, 2022
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by: Bill Potrecz, BP Sports Niagara

Athletes’ arrival in Niagara made six years of ‘ups and downs’ all worthwhile, says N22 Board Chair Doug Hamilton

Niagara Summer Games 2022 Board Chair Doug Hamilton was beaming with pride Saturday afternoon on the eve of The Games.

“I take a lot of personal pride in this but what I take the most pride in is the assembly of the team we’ve got. We put together a team to assemble a bigger team and we’ve got a great team,” Hamilton said. “We’re really ready for these Games and we’re really excited to now show what we can do.”

Just hours before the opening ceremonies at the Meridian Centre, Hamilton was joined by an impressive group of speakers at a press conference at the Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview including CGC Board Chair Evan Johnston; the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec; the Honourable Neil Lumsden, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport; Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley; Grandmother Elder Jackie LaBonte; and Team Ontario’s Chef de Mission Steve Sevor.

Hamilton said the amount of work that has gone into being prepared for the Games is almost immeasurable. 

“It’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of challenges and the pandemic but we’re really proud we figured it all out,” he said. “People are talking about how you pivot now. That’s the new word. People don’t understand how much we’ve had to pivot and we’re really proud to show how much we’ve come to where we’re at.

“It’s the culmination of a lot of work. We’ve been planning these Games for the last six years. There’s been hours and hours of planning and negotiations, there’s been construction, there’s been a lot of work by an awful lot of people.”

Hamilton admitted he had his share of anxiety over the course of the last several years, not the least of which was postponing the Games from 2021 to 2022.

“We all have those depression days during the pandemic where we’d hit a first wave and then a second wave would come and then a third wave. Each of those waves caused us problems. We had to lay off staff, and that’s never a happy situation, and then had to go get additional funding from the federal government and they were very kind in giving us some additional funding.

“We worked our way through it but there were lots of ups and downs.”

Hamilton said he was thrilled to see all that in the rear view mirror as the athletes arrived in Niagara Friday. 

“We were a little worried about some of the travel logistics but the travel day went well. There’s no playbook for what we went through and we’re still going through it. We’re still in the hangover of the pandemic but we have a great team. We are eager to show off those preparations tomorrow.”

He said all the hard work is done for the athletes.

“The reason is we do it is for you (athletes). Every volunteer at these Games — and you’re going to see an awful lot of them over the next little while — they’re all wearing these light blue t-shirts and every one of them are volunteers because the Canada Games are delivered on the backs of volunteers.”

Featuring 18 sports and more than 250 events, including a pair of festivals in Niagara Place and the 13 For 13 Cultural Festival, the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games will host approximately 5,000 up-and-coming Canadian athletes, coaches, and support staff in the Niagara Region for the 28th edition of the Canada Games. These Games mark just the third occasion in the event’s 55-year history that they have been held in Ontario and the first time in 21 years. Niagara 2022 features an inaugural women’s rugby sevens competition, the return of men’s lacrosse after a 37-year absence from the Games, and the first women’s lacrosse competition in the history of the Canada Games.

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