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18 July 2024

Special Olympics UAE begins its participation at Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023


 Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 kicked off yesterday at Messe Berlin, known as Berlin ExpoCenter City. The first day of the games saw Special Olympics UAE athletes participate in Rhythmic Gymnastics, which is one of the 20 sports UAE athletes are participating in during the games.

The UAE delegation is the largest from the MENA region and comprises 167 individuals, including 72 athletes with Intellectual and Developmental disabilities and 31 unified partners. Accompanying them is a dedicated team of technical, medical, and administrative staff.

During the opening ceremony, which took place at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Special Olympics International organised an act of unity and inclusion through the Athletes’ Parade. Participating delegations were requested to bring water from their homeland. As delegations entered the ceremony location, an athlete headed to the Special Olympics River to pour the water they brought from their home countries. Special Olympics UAE athlete Ghanem Al-Maamari represented the UAE during this remarkable moment, carrying water collected from Al-Ain Oasis.

Special Olympics UAE athletes will be moving across Berlin in 17 locations, to participate in the 20 different sports, including swimming, badminton, bowling, athletics, beach volleyball (men), volleyball (women), basketball, cycling, equestrian, and powerlifting.

Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE, said, “We are ready for the games, especially after the extensive preparations and training camps we held throughout the year. We are delighted to be representing the UAE on a global stage, and spread its message of inclusion, dedication, and tolerance, which is the legacy of the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.”

Special Olympics UAE adopted the slogan "The Road to Berlin" in its preparations for the Games. The training journey commenced in January 2023, marked by a series of intensive training camps. Three of these camps took place within the UAE. In addition to UAE-based training, the teams also trained abroad. The Women's Unified Football Team travelled to Japan for a week-long training camp in January.