Niagara-on-the-Lake is taking a spot on the national stage next year, hosting tennis and sailing for the 2022 Canada Summer Games.
“It's a wonderful opportunity for the town,” said NOTL Tennis Club president Hugh Dow. “It's a very high-profile event. It's the biggest sporting event in Canada for Canadian athletes.”
The tennis portion will be hosted at Memorial Park, which has four courts and two more soon to be completed.
The venue is one of several in Niagara to host the games, including swimming at Brock University and sailing at the NOTL Sailing Club.
Welland also will be the site of some tennis matches.
“We'll have six very good, hard courts available. And we will be hosting it in conjunction with Welland,” said Dow.
Tennis is scheduled for the first week of the games, between Aug. 6 and 13, 2022.
Dow said the games are “a big deal” for NOTL and will bring about 5,000 athletes and 4,000 volunteers to town.
Final approval for the event is now in the hands of the town.
He said it's both a sporting event and a “cultural” event, which he hopes the Town of NOTL gets behind.
“It will be something that most people will only experience once in their lifetimes. It's never been in Niagara before. Last time around, in 2017, it was in Winnipeg. And this is obviously a wonderful opportunity to see some of Canada's top athletes, many of whom are Olympic hopefuls and will be participating in the Olympics, so it's really a showcase for Canada's top athletes and I think certainly the club and the town will be very happy to be part of that.”
He said the club and games organizers remain hopeful that the competition will be able to move forward and the global COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided.
“Everyone is trying to be optimistic as possible,” Dow said, noting the games were originally scheduled for 2021.
“They decided, obviously because of COVID, to delay that for another year but everything seems to be in place, and there's a combination of obviously full-time staff and volunteers involved on behalf of the games. So, we are set to go for August of '22.”
He said the 2022 date gives “some good breathing space between now and then to get things ready and get things into place for it.”
The town will be looking at what infrastructure improvements need to be made, Dow said, but he's hopeful the municipality will be supportive of any necessary improvements.
“We've had very encouraging responses so far from the Lord Mayor, Betty Disero, and also Marnie Cluckie as well has been involved in initial discussions with this and they've been very supportive and very enthusiastic and I think recognize the opportunity this provides for the town,” he said.
“And I can't think of a better way to really get things back on, certainly the tourist track, with something as high-profile as this, because it is an enormous sporting event, and undoubtedly will attract a lot of regional and national interest.”
Disero said she was “delighted” the two NOTL sporting clubs were chosen. “I know they will make our community proud when they host the 2022 Canada Summer Games and show the world how special our town is.”