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Comedian Jon Stewart will host the Defense Department’s 2021 Warrior Games in Orlando, Fla., as the annual adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members returns after the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancelation last year.

The 2021 Warrior Games are expected to be the largest event since the competition was first launched in 2010, Stewart said in an interview Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America. The 2021 games, hosted by the Army, will be held Sept. 12 to 22 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.

“It was really tough to lose the games last year,” said Stewart, who will emcee the Warrior Games for the fifth time. “Being able to get these guys all together again — it’s great. It’s not just about the competition. It’s about the community. They all, kind of, hold each other accountable and they really create this incredible bond with each other. It’s really wonderful to watch.”

Stewart first hosted the games in 2016 when they were held at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. The former host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show who has spent recent years advocating for veterans, especially those sickened by burn pits while serving overseas, recalled the games 2016 were a sparsely attended event with a few hundred injured and ill troops and veterans competing.

They have since grown to attract thousands of fans each year.

The 2021 games, which will be sponsored by Disney and broadcast on ESPN, will be free to the public. They will feature teams from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Special Operations Command and international teams from Ukraine and the nation of Georgia, according to the Pentagon. Competitions span more than a dozen sports and include archery, cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, golf and wheelchair rugby.

Stewart on Monday encouraged the public to attend the 2021 games, calling them inspirational.

“The competition is fierce. These athletes are world-class adaptive sport athletes, and they get after it,” he said. “Man, when you come in there and you see these athletes compete, and you see the resilience and just the pride they take — it’s really a great experience for people.”

Warrior Games were last held in 2019 when they were hosted by Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. They were scheduled to be held last year in San Antonio. The Pentagon announced in March that San Antonio will now host the 2022 Warrior Games.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com

Twitter: @CDicksteinDC

Comedian Jon Stewart speaks in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.
Comedian Jon Stewart speaks in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

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