HALIFAX -- The 2020 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, scheduled to be held July 12-18 in Halifax, Aldershot, and Millbrook, N.S., had been called the "largest multi-sport and cultural event ever to be held in Atlantic Canada."

“The collective goal for all of us at this time is to keep everyone safe and healthy,” says Tex Marshall, President of NAIG 2020. “To abide by the recommendations and guidance of the Nova Scotia government and its healthcare professionals is critical to slowing and eliminating this pandemic, even if it means the delay of something amazing. We at NAIG 2020 are proud of Nova Scotia’s remarkable and unfaltering efforts during this crisis.”

In a statement on their website, the NAIG Council and the NAIG 2020 team says they will be exploring options for rescheduling the games along with their funders and partners.

“The focus now is for NAIG Council to work with the Host Society, NAIG funding partners and other key stakeholders to deliver the Games, in Halifax, in 2021. Until then, let’s hold onto the idea of celebration and join together, then—Indigenous and others—next summer," says Dale Plett, President of the Council.

Plans include exploring special concessions to ensure that athletes eligible to compete at the Halifax 2020 NAIG remain eligible to participate in the rescheduled Games, says the statement.

More than 5000 athletes, coaches and team staff from 756 Indigenous nations were expected to take part in cultural celebrations and compete in 16 sports across 21 venues, along with the help of 3000 volunteers.