Thousands of first responders are expected to be in Winnipeg next year for an Olympic-style event, the 2023 World Police and Fire Games.
Now the police officers and firefighters attending will have more competition. The games organization announced Thursday more athletes will be invited to take part, including volunteer firefighters, 911 dispatchers, and lifeguards.
Games COO Mike Edwards says this is being done to be more inclusive and diverse.
“We as the hosts here in Winnipeg are going to get the benefit of having those participants in the games for the first time ever and we couldn’t be happier,” said Edwards.
Paramedics are also now on the participants’ list.
On the same day the games made this official publicly, one of its high-profile board members who pushed to get the competition for Winnipeg stepped down. Alex Forrest, the former long-time president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, posted a message on Facebook.
“Brother, sister police and firefighters – sadly, I have to announce that I have resigned my board position from the Winnipeg World Police & Fire Games 2023 Winnipeg,” writes Forrest.
He then appears to caution those thinking of entering the event.
“Before you decide to attend or send a team, direct message me,” writes Forrest.
Forrest declined an interview request by CTV News
He has been at odds with the paramedics’ union in the past, and is a staunch defender of firefighters.
Edwards says he doesn’t know why Forrest pulled out.
“I’m not sure, I don’t want to speak on Mr. Forrest’s behalf, it’s not any information that was communicated to us,” said Edwards.
Edwards doesn’t believe Forrest’s Facebook post will cause participants to shy away.
“We don’t,” said Edwards. “These games are about bringing people together, about diversity and inclusion.”
The games are set to run July 28 to August 6, 2023.
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