Proof-of-COVID-19 vaccination required as B.C. Winter Games set to go ahead in Vernon

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As many as 2,000 athletes from across B.C. will participate in 17 events from Feb. 24 to 27.  (BC Games Society - image credit)
As many as 2,000 athletes from across B.C. will participate in 17 events from Feb. 24 to 27. (BC Games Society - image credit)

The B.C. Games Society has confirmed the winter games will take place in Vernon, B.C., this February, but a COVID-19 vaccination mandate will apply, without exception, to all who plan to attend.

That means all athletes, coaches, officials, staff, volunteers, and spectators will need to be able to show proof of vaccination with Health Canada-approved vaccines in order to attend the games, the society said Friday.

"As this multi-sport event will attract people from every region of the province, we must take appropriate actions and precautions to help minimize the health risks for all participants," said B.C. Games Society board chair Jamey Paterson.

All games participants will be required to show they have been vaccinated with a second dose at least 14 days before the games begin.

The society also said there will be no exceptions to the mandate, and a negative COVID-19 test will not be accepted as a substitute.

This will be the first B.C. Winter Games to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

B.C.'s 2020 Summer Games, which were to take place in Maple Ridge last July, were cancelled by the provincial government last March due to the pandemic.

At the time, the organization said it would look ahead to 2022 when Prince George and Greater Vernon would host the summer and winter games.

The society says it is working with the local organizers as well as provincial and local public health officials to ensure COVID-19 safety protocols are in place. It says it will also work in partnership with games venue owners to align vaccination policies for third party contractors working at those venues.

"We recognize this is a new measure for all participants of the B.C. Winter Games," said games president Alison Noble. "But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we need to adjust our policies to make sure the Games are safe for everyone."

In addition to requiring proof of full vaccination, operational modifications, mask wearing, sanitizing and physical distancing will be required for all participants.

The society said its policy on each venue's spectator capacity is still being decided.

The Greater Vernon 2022 B.C. Winter Games will be held Feb. 24 to 27, 2022.

The society said it will be monitoring all provincial and local public health orders in the coming months to determine vaccination requirements for the Prince George 2022 B.C. Summer Games.

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