It takes a village to stage a Games
At 11:30 Friday morning, the student residences at Brock University will be transformed into the Athletes’ Village for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games.
The first competitors are expected at that time and they will be part of 2,320 athletes who will call Brock home for the first week of the Games, which run from Aug. 6 to 21.
“It is a phenomenal number and it is highest in Week 2,” said Marc Sorrie, the Games’ senior manager of athlete services.
On Aug. 14, the 2,320 original arrivals will depart and be replaced by a further 2,364 athletes. They will occupy 99 per cent of Brock’s residence rooms with the remainder being used to house summer students. Athletes will be housed in single rooms, double rooms and four-person townhouses. On arrival, they will receive a gift bag highlighted by a Shelly the mascot plush toy, Lysol wipes, a water bottle and plenty of Games’ pins.
Security is being stressed at Brock.
“Your access control gets you into your building and your building only. There are access control volunteers during the day and hallways will be monitored,” Sorrie said.
Overnight, paid security will take over security duties.
Everything an athlete could want will be found at Brock, starting with the Lowenberger Residence Dining Hall which will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. with flexibility built in at beginning and end of days for early and late sports.
“It’s three meals a day — breakfast, lunch and dinner —with all-day grazing,” Sorrie said. “We are keeping it to the basics but very athlete-centered at the same time.”
Those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed.
“They have a truck full of ice cream because you can never forget about dessert,” he said. “If you’re having a bad day or even a good day, an ice cream bar is going to put you over the top.”
The Games will be serving about 10,000 meals a day with the majority being dished out at Brock.
“It is a big undertaking and it is being done by a very small team,” Sorrie said.
No one is worried about the food being an issue with athletes’ overall enjoyment of the Games.
“The No. 1 determinant of overall satisfaction at the Canada Games is not actually food or transportation. It is the field of play and the competition,” Sorrie said.
In their down time, athletes can chill at outdoor and indoor entertainment spaces.
Located in Jubilee Court, the outdoor entertainment space will feature Muskoka chairs and games such as Cross Net, corn hole, giant Jenga, Frisbee golf, Kan Jam, giant water pong and spike ball. The corn hole games are decorated with the flags of all the participating provinces and territories.
“Because it is a para and able-bodied Games, we have to make sure what we are doing here is accessible to everybody. We have to be really mindful of that,” Sorrie said. “We are trying to make it as drop-in friendly as possible. From an entertainment perspective, a lot of them are going to go to the competitions and support their friends. This is more of an opportunity for them to decompress. We want this to be down time and relaxing. Competition comes first, supporting their friends comes second and this is tertiary.”
The indoor entertainment centre in the Pond Inlet is equipped with board games, foosball, video games, books, puzzles and the world’s most comfortable bean bag chairs that came from the Pan Am Games.
“We were mindful of trying to give kids as much things that they can connect together with instead of being forced to watch a show or do things at set times,” he said. “We want it all to be drop-in friendly where you can bring your friends and teammates together.”
Medical services are found onsite at the same location that was used when Pan Am Games events were staged in Niagara in 2015.
Doctors, nurses, massage therapists, athletic therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors and mental health consultants will be available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and a nurse will be on call overnight. Dental and vision needs will be met by external providers.
Several of the people helping out in this area are coming from across Canada. Because of pandemic concerns, medical personnel who might have gone to help out overseas at the Commonwealth or Francophone Games are coming to volunteer at the Canada Games instead.
“The calibre of medical professional here is quite high,” Sorrie said.
School busses will take athletes and coaches to venues to compete or to cheer on their friends and teammates or attend the events being held across Niagara. There will also be an on-campus shuttle at Brock.
Mask wearing is being highly encouraged but not mandatory. Athletes and coaches have to be double vaccinated to attend the Games. Isolation rooms are available if anyone gets sick.
“When you bring in 2,300 people from across the country, it’s not just COVID,” Sorrie said. “You see gastrointestinal and a lot of different things. We need a place to put people elsewhere to protect the rest of the team.”
Athletes won’t be the only ones located at Brock. All 13 provinces and territories will have mission offices at Brock and there is also a Coach House being run in conjunction with the Coaching Association of Canada. That space will allow for coaches to gather to exchange ideas and information and participate in professional development.
“The forgotten group is the 500 coaches who come with these athletes,” Sorrie said. “They are easily just as important as the athletes and a lot of them are using this to get professional accreditation to move on to higher levels of sport.”