Six nations from the Asia Pacific region are set to take part in the sports and humanitarian event for the first time ever
3 October 2018, Abu Dhabi, UAE: In line with its vision to deliver the most unified Games ever held, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 today confirmed that all nations in the Asia Pacific region will take part in the Games next year.
Special Olympics programs have been newly established in Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, and Micronesia that will see their Special Olympics athletes travel to the UAE to compete alongside 7,500 athletes from around the world. The newly accredited nations will now mean the largest ever delegation participation for the Asia Pacific region in a World Games.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh 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 a series of planned initiatives to expand opportunities for people of determination in line with Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s shared vision of a unified and inclusive society.
In order to familiarize the newly accredited nations with the Special Olympics movement, the upcoming World Games and the Games’ host nation and its values of inclusion and tolerance, a workshop was organized by the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 LOC in Fiji. Around a dozen participants from the newly accredited Asian pacific countries took part in the workshop along with representatives from Special Olympics Fiji.
As part of the workshop, participants learnt about intellectual disabilities, early childhood development, and the importance of how a family support network and sports can help transform lives. Training sessions with athletes and coaches were also held.
This commitment to empowering people of determination, coupled with hosting the Special Olympics World Games, has seen the UAE take an active role on a global stage to promote the power of sport to transform lives and its values around tolerance and humanitarian development. The LOC is working closely with Special Olympics in international locations where programs did not previously exist in order to broaden access to dedicated training and opportunities to showcase talent for people with intellectual disabilities.
Following the registration of these six Asia Pacific nations, next year’s World Games in Abu Dhabi will welcome more than 176 nations to participate in the event, the highest number in the 50-year history of the Special Olympics movement.
Khalfan Al Mazrouei, Managing Director at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said: “This is a significant moment for the UAE and our nation’s vision of a unified, inclusive society for all. The LOC is committed to supporting the Special Olympics aim of all people of determination across the world having access to the incredible opportunities that Special Olympics provides. Our aim is to host the most unified Games in the history of Special Olympics and we look forward to welcoming thousands of talented athletes from around the world to the UAE in March.”
As the safest city in the world, according to the Numbeo safety index for 2017, Abu Dhabi offers a welcoming environment for many Special Olympics athletes and their families travelling to the Middle East for the first time, including those from Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu and Micronesia. Members of the World Games’ LOC visited the families of athletes during their time in Fiji to provide them with background information on the UAE, its safety and security and welcoming culture.
Home to more than 200 nationalities, the UAE’s diverse society and culture of unity and warm hospitality are reassuring factors in making the journey to the World Games for the first time, enabling young and aspiring athletes with intellectual disabilities to enter an international competition and benefit from the enriching experiences to be gained from participation.
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, which takes place 14-21 March, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world next year. More than 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches from more than 176 nations will compete in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports across 11 venues.