Just a year ago, I wrote to you following the success of the 2019 Global Games in Brisbane - where nearly 1000 athletes took part in our biggest event ever - and where we had launched our new global brand: Virtus. Motivated and moved by the incredible performances of the very best athletes with an intellectual impairment from around the world, we began 2020 with ever-higher expectations and a committment to do more.
You can relive the highlights here.
Of course, 2020 has been a very different year to the one we had anticipated. Sadly, the various travel and social distancing rules have seen the suspension of large parts of professional and amateur sport and the cancellation of championship events. The Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed to 2021. And athletes across the world were unable to train in their usual venues - or even leave their house to exercise in some cases.
Virtus has made great efforts to adjust to the new circumstances in which we operate. We have launched new virtual competitions and challenges to stay connected to our athletes and maintain their competitive spirit, we have introduced monthly webinars to stay connected to our member organisations to provide support and advice, and we have increased our virtual meetings to stay connected to our many partner organisations and supporters.
Above all, we have remained committed to delivering our 2021 event programme as fully as possible and laying the foundations for events in 2022 and 2023 - including the next Global Games which we recently anounced will take place in Vichy, France. Behind the scenes we have been putting the finishing touches to our new Strategic Plan - due for launch very soon - that sets our priorities and ambitions in the years ahead.
But, there remains much that is uncertain both for Virtus and for our member organisations around the world. Nearly 80% of members recently reported that they expect funding for sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment to decrease due to the pandemic, travel restrictions in some parts of the world are set to continue for many months more, and there is a very real and growing concern that athletes who are already amongst the most marginalised in sport could face additional barriers and hurdles which we have all worked tirelessly to overcome.
Your support to Virtus in recent years has been particularly appreciated and we hope that you will continue to work with us in the months ahead as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Whether this is through a donation, re-posting our stories and updates on social media, or through raising awareness of sport for athletes with an intellectual impairment in your area I want to say thankyou on behalf of the entire Virtus family.
2020 may not have been the year we expected, but remain absolutely committed to achieving the ambitions we set ourselves this time last year, and with your help I have no doubt we will be successful.
Wherever you are and whatever the circumstances created by the pandemic, I would like to send my very best wishes to all our supporters across the world.