Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, announced today at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Unified Summit that 22 new nations have signed up for the upcoming World Games, taking the total number of participating countries to 192, its highest-ever.
As the UAE gears up to host the most unified Games in the 50-year history of the Special Olympics, new programmes have been established in 13 countries in Africa, five in Asia Pacific, two in the MENA region and two in North American countries.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the 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.
This commitment to empowering people of determination, coupled with hosting Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, 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.
Al Hashemy has been at the forefront of a large-scale initiative to encourage and support the development of Special Olympics in international locations where programmes did not previously exist, broadening access to dedicated training and opportunities to showcase talent for people with intellectual disabilities.
Speaking at the summit, today, the minister said, “The UAE continues to be at the forefront of expanding inclusion and opportunity for people of determination throughout the region. So it is with great pleasure that I can announce that Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will set a new record for the number of participating countries, with 192 nations represented. This will truly be the most unified World Games in the history of Special Olympics.”
Mohammed Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said, “The UAE is committed to creating a more unified and inclusive world for all people of determination and the support of Reem Al Hashemy has been pivotal in helping us to spread the message of the Special Olympics movement.
“Today’s announcement means that Special Olympics programmes will now be accessible to thousands of people who may not have previously had access to sports opportunities. These opportunities will aid them in building courage and confidence, forging new friendships and experiencing joy. We look forward to empowering thousands of people of determination from every corner of the world and giving them the chance to shine and showcase sporting excellence on a global stage.”
In order to familiarise 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, workshops were led by the LOC in Kenya and Fiji recently. As part of the workshops, participants learnt about intellectual disabilities, early childhood development, and the importance of how a family support network and sports can help transform lives.
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.
The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, which will take place from 14th to 21st March, 2019, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world. More than 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches from more than 192 nations will compete in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports.