Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Special Olympics World Games open in Abu Dhabi

Special Olympics World Games open in Abu Dhabi
March 15, 2019

Thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities from more than 190 nations have taken part in the opening ceremony of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games at the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.

Featuring performances from global superstars including Avril Lavigne the climax of last evening’s ceremony was the lighting of the Abu Dhabi World Games’ cauldron, completing the Flame of Hope torch run which began in Athens and has touched each Emirate across the UAE.

As tens of thousands of spectators looked on, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, declared the Games officially open, after which fireworks filled the sky at the climax of the event.

The first Games to be held in the Middle East, the hosts are aiming to challenge misconceptions, overcome prejudice and promote inclusion about the potential of those with intellectual disabilities as well as promoting the region’s event hosting capabilities.

Notably, the opening ceremony included a group of 25 Israeli athletes, the largest ever to represent Israel in an Arab country.

Israel was to march between Iran and Iraq but local security officials moved the team to march before Jamaica so that “the Israelis would feel safer,” according to media reports.

With just over half of the athletes at the World Games being women, gender milestones at the event are seeing Saudi Arabia bringing female competitors to the Games for the first time while Mauritiania has sent its first female athlete outside of the country to compete in a sporting event.

Running from 14th to 21st March at venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai – including the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Al Forsan Resort, Yas Marina Circuit, Zayed Sports City and Dubai’s Hamdan Sports Complex - the Games feature 7,500 athletes.

The UAE’s hosting of the Games is seen as a way of changing local attitudes to intellectual disabilities.

A recent study carried out by the Special Olympics in eight Middle Eastern countries found that while compassion for those with intellectual disabilities was evident, discomfort often prevents many people from interacting with them.

To counter this, the organisers of the Abu Dhabi World Games have called on the public to compete alongside disabled athletes in sports such as football, volleyball and basketball.

In addition, in a first for the Games, a dedicated team has been set up to create a lasting legacy with the introduction of 31 programs, covering health, education, culture and spreading awareness, aimed at improving the lives of those with disabilities in the UAE and challenge misconceptions and stereotypes.

Image: Last night's Abu Dhabi World Games opening ceremony. Courtesy of Special Olympics.

Related Articles

23rd February 2018 - 30-week refurbishment complete at UAE’s largest stadium

10th December 2017 - Dubai Parks and Zayed University encourage young Emiratis to consider leisure industry careers

29th September 2016 - Herbalife links with Special Olympics in million dollar fitness collaboration

12th March 2015 - UAE to host 2019 AFC Asian Cup

23rd October 2014 - Papua New Guinea celebrates founder of Special Olympics

5th April 2014 - Special Olympics New Zealand joins UN Sport initiative

2nd December 2013 - Athletes applauded at Special Olympics opening ceremony

24th November 2013 - Countdown to Newcastle hosting of Special Olympics Australia

3rd April 2012 - Al Forsan International Sports Resort hosts growing events portfolio

13th March 2009 - South Asian Cricket relocates to Emirates


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

HRMWEB

At easyemployer we've come up with a software solution that manages one of your most important, and often most costly, business resources - your staff. We are helping 100s of clients to…

read more

Finance / Fitness / Technology

 
 

Altitude Training Systems

Also at 3 Squill Place, Arndell Park NSW 2148 ATS are global leaders in altitude training and research. From mask systems and inflatable tents to simulated altitude facilities, we help…

read more

Fitness / Sport / Technology

 
 

Crystal Pools

Crystal Pools has a solid history of performance on a wide variety of government and commercial projects and is the name behind many of Australia’s most innovative and ambitious aquatic…

read more

Aquatics / Design

 
 

Mattioli

Mattioli provides award winning painting, flooring and waterproofing services to the aquatics and recreation sector. We’re recognised as the leading contractor in the industry with award-winning…

read more

Aquatics / Recreation / Safety

 
 

The Pool Enclosure Company

Welcome to The Pool Enclosure Company (TPEC). We provide a large range of premium commercial and residential retractable swimming pool, spa and terrace enclosures throughout Australia, servicing…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation / Venues

 
 

MYRTHA POOLS

Founded in 1961, Myrtha Pools® quickly became Italy’s première swimming pool company, and has since grown into one of the world's leading swimming pool construction…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks / Wellness

 
 

TICKETSERV

As of 2018, TicketServ operates as SeatGeek Asia Pacific Pty Limited, part of international ticketing platform SeatGeek. Click here to contact SeatGeek Asia Pacific via their entry in…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Events / Sport / Ticketing

 
 

PRIAVA

About Priava's Technology -  Priava is a cloud-based and centralised venue and event management system aimed at venues of all sizes. With its familiar and easy-to-use web interface, the…

read more

Attractions / Billing / Entertainment / Events / Technology

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business