Abu Dhabi will be the host of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event – the first time the event has been held in the Middle East.
The games will take place in venues throughout Abu Dhabi from March 14-21 2019, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday.
The Special Olympic World Games celebrate the skills, talents and sporting achievements of athletes with intellectual disabilities from across the world. The last Special Olympics was held in Los Angeles in 2015.
About 7,000 athletes and their families, from 170 countries will be welcomed to Abu Dhabi. The athletes will compete in 22 sports, taking place at multiple venues throughout the city, including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City and the IPIC arena.
Being awarded host city status further acknowledges Abu Dhabi’s longstanding commitment to encouraging social inclusion at home and across the Middle East, organisers said in a statement.
Dr Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics chairman, said: “Abu Dhabi is the ideal choice to help bring about true change for millions of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in a strategically important region of the world. Selecting the city as host for the Special Olympic World Games in 2019 was an easy choice to make.
“Both Abu Dhabi and the UAE have made disability a priority, promoting rights for people with intellectual disabilities for more than 20 years, making huge strides in integrating people with intellectual disabilities in the workplace and in schools. We are certain that the city’s exceptional infrastructure, experience in hosting some of the world’s biggest sports events, and the warm welcome from the people of the UAE will make for a memorable event,” he added.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has issued a resolution setting up the Higher Committee to host the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi under the chairmanship of Mohammad Abdullah Al Junaibi.
Noura bint Mohammed al Kaabi, UAE Minister of State of Federal National Council Affairs said: “The UAE has put social inclusion at the core of our national policies for over twenty years. It is an integral part of our culture and values. Hosting this wonderful event in Abu Dhabi reaffirms our commitment to improving the quality of life for people with special needs.”