Left to Right: Donna de Varona, Rafer Johnson, Maria Shriver, Don Knabe, Tim Shriver and the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa (courtesy: Rene Macura)
For Immediate Release
Los Angeles, CA – The world’s largest sports and humanitarian event is coming to the world’s capital for media and entertainment. The Special Olympics International Board of Directors announced today that Los Angeles, California will be the host site for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
In less than four years, Los Angeles will welcome more than 7000 Special Olympics athletes from 170 nations to compete in 21 Olympic-type sports. The Special Olympics World Summer Games will return to the United States after 16 years, having last been held in the United States in 1999 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The most recent World Summer Games were the 2011 Games that recently concluded in July in Athens, Greece. The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games are expected to bring more than a half-million people to the greater Los Angeles area and will be held in summer 2015 (specific dates still to be announced).
“On behalf of our entire Special Olympics movement worldwide, I am thrilled to award our 2015 World Games to Los Angeles,” said Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. “Bringing our World Games to a city as powerful and prominent on the world stage as Los Angeles will allow our Special Olympics athletes to showcase their talents and demonstrate to the world the best in sports.”
At a press event at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles today a memorandum of agreement was signed by Shriver and Patrick McClenahan, Chairman of the Los Angeles Bid Committee, who now transitions to become the President &CEO of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games Organizing Committee.
“In a city full of movie stars and all-stars, our Special Olympics athletes will be the stars of this show as they demonstrate their skills, courage and joy. Los Angeles will provide the world stage necessary to create the awareness that leads to increased acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities throughout Southern California, the nation and the world,” said McClenahan.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was also in attendance at today’s event and said, “We are thrilled and honored to be selected as the international city to host the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games and look forward to showcasing the remarkable skills and inspiring passion of Special Olympics athletes."
Along with Shriver, McClenahan and Villaraigosa, others who gave remarks at today’s Special Olympics press conference included: Loretta Claiborne, Special Olympics Athlete Spokesperson and member of Special Olympics International Board of Directors Games Committee; Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of AEG; C.L.Max Nikias, President of the University of Southern California; Don Knabe, Los Angeles County Supervisor; and Rafer Johnson, Los Angeles’ own Olympic legend - 1960 Olympic Gold Medalist in the Decathlon - and Founder of Special Olympics Southern California.
The event was co-hosted byDonna DeVarona, Sports Broadcaster and Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist and Co-Chair, Special Olympics International Board of Directors Games Committee and Dustin Plunkett, Special Olympics Southern California athlete, International Global Messenger and member of the Los Angeles 2015 Games Bid Committee.The press event also featured a parade of nearly 20 Olympic legends and 20 Special Olympics athletes.
Every two years, thousands of Special Olympics athletes worldwide come together to showcase their athletic skills and celebrate the spirit of Special Olympics, which celebrates nearly 50,000 events a year. The first Special Olympics World Games took place in 1968 and since then have evolved into a world-class sporting event, attracting a wide range of sponsors, supporters and media. Alternating between Summer Games and Winter Games, Special Olympics World Games bring public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers that can exclude them from the mainstream of the community.
Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 were held in Greece, and the next Special Olympics World Games will be the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Korea. The Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013 will be held from 26 January to 6 February 2013 in PyeongChang, Korea; more information can be found at www.2013SOPOC.org. For more information about Special Olympics World Summer Games Los Angeles 2015 please visit www.specialolympics.org and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #LA2015.
The power of the Special Olympics movement would not be possible without generous support from our corporate partners. Global corporate partners include: The Coca-Cola Company, The Procter & Gamble Company, Mattel, Inc. and the Mattel Children’s Foundation, and Hilton Worldwide. Lions Clubs International is also an official global partner of Special Olympics.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world and in the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on:Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.