Canada’s top Boccia athletes took the field at the Québec City Convention Centre for the 27th Canadian Boccia Championships. Held November 15 to 20, 2021, the event marked the first major Boccia event since the start of the pandemic, and the first Boccia competition on Canadian grounds since the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Added to the Paralympic Games in 1984, Boccia is a game of strategy and precision that has grown popular among athletes with physical impairments (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, etc.). Similar to lawn bowling or curling (without the ice), it challenges solo players or teams to maneuver their leather balls closest to a target (“jack”) across a 12.5m x 6m course. Contenders can play from multiple positions (e.g., seated in a wheelchair, free-up hands from crutches, etc.), and play styles can adapt to each athlete’s needs.
“The athletes we deal with have neurological difficulties, spinal-cord injury, muscular-dystrophy, or cerebral-palsy, so boccia is perfect,” explained Peter Leyser of Boccia Canada.
With many adaptations and athlete classifications, Boccia is a unique game with unique requirements. Nevertheless, it is one that the Québec City Convention Centre was eager and equipped to host.
“We put a lot of efforts towards inclusivity and accessibility,” says Ann Cantin, Director of Communications for the Québec City Convention Centre. “Seeing those athletes compete at our venue and discover our city was heartwarming.”
Inclusivity as a priority
Hosting a high-profile sporting event like the Canadian Boccia Championships comes naturally to the Québec City Convention Centre. The venue’s facilities are designed in accordance to the National Building Code of Canada and the American Disability Act, and they also meet all of the accessibility requirements laid out by Kéroul, an international organization committed to increasing accessibility to tourism and culture for individuals with restricted physical abilities.
The Centre’s commitment to accessibility is central to its event facilities and informs its overall service philosophy. It is also part of the venue’s intention to align with the United Nation’s sustainability goals; in this case, those which champion inclusivity and accessibility for all.
Safe and accessible
Hosting Boccia’s first major Canadian competition since the beginning of the pandemic required careful health and safety considerations. To that end, Québec City Convention Centre worked in closely with the Association québécoise de sports pour paralytiques cérébraux (AQSPC) to ensure the sport’s return was done safely for athletes, their supports, and event staff.
“All the measures have been put in place to ensure that participants have the pleasure of meeting in the safest possible environment,” stated José Malo, Executive Director of the AQSPC, prior to the event.
Step by step, the Québec City Convention Centre is getting back to what it does best. And as successful events like this demonstrate, it has much to bring to the field.
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