Team Marines' Ray Hennagir (C), shoots against Team Army during the Wheelchair Basketball playoffs of the 2015 Department Of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The 2021 Department of Defense Warrior Games have been canceled because of concerns about rising cases of the COVID-19, the Army announced Tuesday.
Army leaders, medical professionals and stakeholders made the decision to cancel the games to ensure the health and safety of service members and local communities as the Delta variant of the coronavirus remains a concern.
The games, which pit injured and ill service members and veterans in adaptive sports, were set to take place Sept. 12-22 in Orlando, Fla.
"I want to thank all of the athletes, staff personnel and our partners for their hard work to prepare for this year's DoD Warrior Games," Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, who is the executive agent for the games, said in a statement.
"It's unfortunate we are unable to hold the games, but our first priority must be the health and welfare of everyone involved," she said. "The entire DoD understands the importance of the Warrior Games to the athletes and their families, as part of their recovery process, which makes this decision even more difficult."
This year would have marked the 11th anniversary of the Warrior Games, which were first held in 2010 to celebrate the resilience and dedication of wounded warriors and enhance their recovery, Army Times noted.
The Warrior Games feature hundreds of elite athletes from the U.S. military and international allied nations competing in adaptive sports including volleyball, powerlifting, cycling, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, golf, precision air sports, swimming, indoor rowing, archery, and track and field.
The 2020 Warrior Games, which were to be hosted by the U.S. Marine Corps, also were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.