Abu Dhabi, Mar. 14 (BNA): Special Olympics World Games 2019 has made history by welcoming a record-breaking 200 nations ahead of the World Games. Of the 200 nations, 195 will compete in the Games and five will observe.
Held in the Middle East for the first time, 7,500 athletes will take part in 24 Olympic-style sports over seven days. With the highest number of women taking part and the largest number of Unified team mates on board, the World Games will capture the attention of the globe.
Under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 is an integral part of local, national and regional plans to expand opportunities for people of determination in line with Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s shared vision of a unified and inclusive society.
Taking place on March 14-21 in the UAE Year of Tolerance, the largest sports and humanitarian event on the planet in 2019 will be a momentous display of inclusivity, unity, respect, and sporting achievement.
A catalyst for positive change, the World Games will welcome thousands of athletes to showcase their bravery, passion and skills as part of a global movement to create a brighter future for people of determination everywhere.
The most unified Games in the 50-year history of Special Olympics, the World Games Abu Dhabi involves people of determination (the UAE’s official terminology for people with disabilities) in every aspect of the event.
More than 2,500 women will fly the flag for their nation, with almost half of them performing in athletics competitions. Saudi Arabia will send female athletes for the first time, with 14 women participating.
The host nation, the UAE, will filed its largest-ever squad of athletes at a World Games, with 320 sportsmen and women participating making it the biggest delegation at the event, closely followed by Special Olympics Bharat and Special Olympics USA.
The World Games in Abu Dhabi will also feature the largest volunteer program to date in the Middle East and North Africa. More than 20,000 people have registered to give their time to the event, demonstrating an unprecedented level of engagement with the principals of inclusion and strengthening the culture of volunteerism.
Nine world-class venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai will accommodate 500,000 spectators, 1,500 officials will referee the Games, while 3,000 coaches will assist the athletes.
“The UAE is proud to gather humanity in the land of tolerance, a meeting that transcends the value and stature of international events with noble respect and dedication to people of determination who represent an important segment in the community,” Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, said.
“This successful historical World Games aims at achieving national and international goals and consolidates the values of integration, empowerment and solidarity between community members, nations and countries.
“This is a national humanitarian mission that we have the honor to carry and achieve in Special Olympics. May we all convey the message of humanity to the world and raise the theme of community integration and empowerment for the future.”
Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics International, said: “As we kick-off the World Games, we can celebrate the fact that our movement has made progress in the 50 years since Special Olympics was founded. The difference today is that this is a movement by people of determination for people of determination — and for everyone else.
“Progress for people of determination is progress for all. The next wave of game-changing moments starts here at the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.”
Maryam Thyab, Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, said: “Participating in World Games is life-changing for people of determination — it literally is that big.
“As someone from this region, as a woman, as an athlete, I am so proud to be here and excited for those people from around the world who are taking part for the first time. As we move forward, we are people who are determined to advance inclusion — for us, for everyone.”
The World Games 2019 will feature a range of non-sports initiatives such as Healthy Athletes and a Special Olympics programme that provides free health examinations for each of the athletes competing in Abu Dhabi.
It also features an Inclusive Art Exhibition, Play & Live Unified activities, the Stand Up for Inclusion concert – part of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Festival, and the Global Youth Leadership Summit.