The Special Olympics World Games – a global sporting event for people with intellectual disabilities – kicked off in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates on 14th March 2019. It will end on 21st March 2019. This was the first that the Games have been held in the Middle East and North African region since they were initiated 50 years ago.
Over 40,000 people attended the opening ceremony at the Zayed Sports City stadium. Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne and Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, popular for his hit number ‘Despacito,’ performed at the opening ceremony to an enthusiastic crowd. Emirati musician Hussain Al Jassmi also performed at the event.
This edition will see over 7,000 athletes from over 180 nations across the world participating. The athletes will compete in 24 different individual and team sporting events. Interestingly, 19 of the nations that are sending their teams to the event this year are doing so for the first time ever, showing an increase in inclusivity and in empowering people through sports.
What are the Special Olympics World Games?
The Special Olympics World Games are an international sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities and is the largest one of its kind. According to the official website, “Special Olympics is the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event and a global movement which focuses on the empowerment of People of Determination with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport.”
The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago, Illinois, United States, in 1968.
What do you think of these Games? Aren’t they a beautiful celebration of inclusivity irrespective of nationality, faith, culture, and religion?