Abu Dhabi has been confirmed as the host city for the 2019 edition of the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
The Special Olympics International Board of Directors unanimously voted for the capital of the United Arab Emirates to stage the Games, highlighting the country’s vision to create inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities within the region and around the world.
The Special Olympics are recognised by the International Olympic Committee, but, unlike the Paralympic Games, are not held in the same year as the Olympic Games. The multi-sport event alternates between summer and winter games every two years.
The most recent edition of the summer event took place in the Californian city of Los Angeles in the US in 2015, while next year’s winter Games are scheduled to run March 14-25 in Graz and Schladming, Austria.
“Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi is revolutionary for our movement and for the Middle East region,” Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver said. “There's no better or more profound location than Abu Dhabi to invite the world to come together in celebration of sport, in celebration of people of all kinds, and to demonstrate to the world that the lines of division can be erased.
“We are thrilled to be the first fully global multi-sport Games of this size to be staged in the Middle East region of the world.”
Confirmation of Abu Dhabi as host city came at this week’s meeting of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, during which Shriver was re-elected as chairman for a second three-year term.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said on Twitter: “UAE’s hosting of the 2019 Special Olympic World Games reflects the world’s confidence in UAE’s capabilities, youth & humanitarian image. We welcome the world’s best athletes to the UAE, congratulate Special Olympics leadership on promoting inclusion & tolerance through sport.”