TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Comedian Jon Stewart dropped by the WFLA News Channel 8 studios in downtown Tampa this morning to promote the 2019 Warrior Games in Tampa Bay.
He is hosting tonight’s opening ceremonies at Amalie Arena, which will include a performance by country star Hunter Hayes.
Stewart has been involved with the Games since they were held at West Point in 2016.
He ran an internship for veterans during his time as host of The Daily Show, and he said the partnership seemed like a great fit.
“And the guy who had helped us with that asked me, do you want to run up there and host the Games? I had never heard of it, but I did it, and I was blown away by the level of competition, the resilience of these athletes. It was incredibly inspirational.
This year’s Warrior Games will feature more than 300 athletes competing in 14 different sports, including three new ones for 2019: golf, wheelchair tennis, and wheelchair rugby.
“Wheelchair rugby is like a demolition derby,” Stewart said with a laugh. “It’s maybe the craziest thing I’ve ever seen–and these athletes LOVE it.”
Stewart has been a long-time supporter of America’s heroes.
In addition to the Warrior Games, he has long fought for benefits for 9/11 first responders, giving emotional testimony last week on Capitol Hill on their behalf.
“There’s certain moments that can crystallize how our politics have made it so that our policies and our programs don’t function properly,” Stewart said. “When [Lou Alvarez] spoke–and I knew how hard it was for him to come down there–and I looked up at the dais and there was only six people out of 14 that were sitting there…I’d had a rather more conciliatory message that I was going to deliver, but I think that was just so upsetting.”
Opening ceremonies for the 2019 Warrior Games begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
Competition for the Games runs all week long at various venues throughout Tampa Bay, concluding with the closing ceremonies on Sunday, June 30.