Special Olympics Illinois will eliminate three sports from its competitions, according to a letter from the organization’s CEO sent earlier this month.
Following the conclusion of both the 2017 Winter Games and Skating Championships, the organization will no longer hold competitions for cross country skiing, figure skating and speed skating, according to the Feb. 2 letter.
The change came as “a result of dwindling participation numbers,” CEO Marty Hickman wrote.
“A threshold has to be considered when it comes to participation numbers in order to maintain the integrity of the sport,” Hickman said, adding that athletes will still be allowed to practice and participate in each sport.
The organization will also help facilitate engagement in each sport, the letter said, connecting participants with clubs, out-of-state programs or existing park programs.
Officials will also continue to monitor interest in the event that any of the sports grow enough to merit being reestablished, Hickman wrote.
The Special Olympics Illinois’ Winter Games were held in Hanover, Illinois, on Monday through Wednesday this week and included alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
The Skating Championships are scheduled for February 18-19 in Woodridge, and include both figure skating and speed skating. Both the Winter Games and Skating Championships are two of the organization’s nine culminating competitions throughout the year.
Special Olympics Illinois services more than 22,000 athletes across the state in nearly 200 sports each year, according to the organization.