The British Transplant Games 2021 were due to be held in venues across Leeds from August 5 to August 8.
But today Transplant Sport has announced that the Games have been postponed until summer 2022 instead - when the charity 'can't wait to finally welcome everyone to Leeds'.
The British Transplant Games are the flagship event of Transplant Sport and aim to raise awareness of the life-saving benefits of organ donation and the importance of
remaining healthy and active post-transplant.
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Paul Harden, Chair of Trustees at Transplant Sport, said: “While the British Transplant Games is the pinnacle of our annual calendar and we know many were looking forward to being reunited with friends and teammates in Leeds, we became increasingly aware that we could not safely run such a large event this year.
“The wellbeing of our transplant community is paramount and although the vaccination rollout has been extremely efficient, not all transplant recipients and their families will have been vaccinated by August this year.
"We can not therefore guarantee safety for all of our participants, volunteers, supporters and organisers.
“It is with sincere regret that Transplant Sport has had to postpone the British Transplant Games and other sports and social events across the UK this year.
"We know that peer support and interaction for transplant recipients, organ donors and donor families is vitally important so we are delighted that the Games will be back bigger and better in Leeds in 2022.
"In the meantime, we want to encourage transplant recipients to stay healthy and active.”
Since March 2020, solid organ transplant recipients have been defined as ‘extremely vulnerable’ to coronavirus by Public Health England and as such, recommended shielding.
Leeds City Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for Environment and Active Lifestyles, is a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) ambassador for the 2021 Games.
He said: “We are obviously disappointed that this year’s event can’t go ahead but it’s more important that we keep everybody safe. In the meantime, there is still work to be
done in raising awareness of organ donation and breaking down some of the misconceptions around transplantation within BAME communities.
"I can’t wait to bring everyone to Leeds for a big celebration next year and until then, we will continue spreading these important messages.”
The 2021 Leeds Games were being supported by partners including Leeds City Council, Leeds Hospitals Charity and the University of Leeds.
Roger Burnley, Chair of the stakeholder board and CEO at Asda, said: “It is with deep sadness that we have taken the decision to move the British Transplant Games from this summer, to 2022.
“Together with Games organisers, the stakeholder board did everything we could to make the event this summer a reality but due to ongoing concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic it has become clear we can’t guarantee that a physical event would be safe for competitors, their families and friends and the wider transplant community.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank sponsors, partners and friends of the Games from across Leeds and beyond for their ongoing support.
"We are already having exciting conversations and making plans to ensure that the Westfield Health British Transplant Games 2022 will be the best Games yet and can’t wait to finally welcome everyone to Leeds."
The British Transplant Games receives ongoing support from organisations including Westfield Health, Kidney Care UK and Anthony Nolan.
For more information on the Games, visit: britishtransplantgames.co.uk/