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The Role of the Chef de Mission at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024

September 29, 2023

Amidst the spectacular backdrop of Calgary, a bustling city famous for its welcoming western spirit, a unique preparation for Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Calgary 2024 was underway. The Chefs de Mission representing each of the 12 Provincial/Territorial Chapters of Special Olympics Canada arrived with anticipation for a two-day operational briefing. It is a significant task as they represent the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the athletes from their respective territories and provinces. 

"The Chef de Mission role is the beating heart leading our Games. They are essential in ensuring the spirit of competition, fair play, and unbridled joy shines brightest on the national stage. Their dedication embodies the very essence of what we aspire to achieve here in Calgary, and we have immense gratitude for all of the support and contributions they provide throughout the Games planning process."- Karen Dommett, Games Executive Director. 

The role of a Chef de Mission bears immense responsibility. These dedicated individuals are accountable for ensuring a smooth flow of communication, handling logistics, and most importantly, making sure that every athlete, coach, and team manager navigates the Games environment successfully. They are the backbone that supports every stride and leap of the athletes.  

To kick off their two-day visit, a special event was held on the September 27th. In true Calgary fashion, the Games Organizing Committee, in collaboration with Tourism Calgary, conducted a traditional white-hat ceremony. David Woodward, the Vice-President of Destination Experience and Services at Tourism Calgary, took to the stage, white hatting each Chef de Mission. The ceremony was symbolic – an official nod to the start of the Games preparations. The evening was not just a ceremonial gesture but also an affirmation of the camaraderie and spirit the Games stand for. 

Once the hats were donned and the photos clicked, the Chefs and other dignitaries buckled up for a full Games orientation the following day. It was an intensive walkthrough of all logistics, further solidifying their roles and responsibilities. 

After settling into Calgary, their first order of business was familiarizing themselves with the operational frameworks of the Games. They reviewed the sport technical packages, schedules, policies, and procedures, highlighting any potential concerns that could arise during the course of the event. Collaboratively, they also worked with Games Organizers to ensure everything from athlete registration, external travel logistics to communication with all regional Games partners and participants will be seamless. A significant portion of their time was dedicated to understanding the environment of each of the seven sporting venues that will play host to the Games here in Calgary. 

Fittingly, each of the Chefs will wear multiple hats during Games time. They serve as the primary communication link between their regional teams and the Host Society, ensuring timely updates on schedules or changes. They stand vigilant, ready to address any code of conduct or rule infractions and the team’s top cheerleader. Always available, they support the coaching staff and team managers in their multi-faceted roles. They don the hat of a spokesperson, representing the voice and sentiment of their regional teams. Their role is pivotal in ensuring the spirit of the Games shines brightly – a spirit of competition, fair play, and unbridled joy. 

Calgary 2024 promises to be an event where dreams meet determination, and the Chefs de Mission, with their dedication and commitment, ensure that the journey for every athlete is memorable.  

 As the city of Calgary waits with bated breath for the Games to begin February 27th one thing is for sure – behind every successful athlete, there will be a Chef de Mission who will play their role to perfection. 

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