Special Olympics Strengthens Ties at IOC and FIFA
Special Olympics CEO, Tim Shriver, Holds Series of Meetings With Global Sports Leaders; Discussions Center on Improving the World Through Sport
Washington, D.C. – 18 November 2011 – Earlier this week Special Olympics Chairman and CEO, Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, traveled to Switzerland and met with the Presidents of two of the leading sports organizations in the world: the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body for the sport of football, to discuss how on-going collaboration can help improve the world through the power of sport.
“It was inspiring to be able to meet with both President Rogge and President Blatter in the same day, two global sports leaders,” said Shriver. “As the Special Olympics movement is growing worldwide - 71% of our more than 3.7 million athletes are in the developing world - we look forward to working with leading organizations like FIFA and the IOC to continue to build our organization worldwide for the largest disability population on earth, people with intellectual disabilities.”
Shriver traveled to FIFA’s offices in Zurich on 15 November to meet with FIFA President Mr. Joseph S. Blatter. FIFA has been a long-standing supporter of Special Olympics. Blatter emphasized his support for Special Olympics and discussed with Shriver how they can use the sport of football as a tool for global development. Football is the world's biggest game and is the fastest growing sport in Special Olympics with more than 435,000 athletes globally. Special Olympics hopes to grow to have more than 1 million football athletes by 2015.
Also on 15 November, Shriver, alongside colleagues Special Olympics’ International Board Member and Olympic Medalist Donna de Varona, as well as representative Kai Troll from Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia, travelled to Lausanne and were received by Mr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The meeting between Special Olympics and the IOC fostered the relationship between the two organizations that has been on-going since the IOC first recognized Special Olympics with a Protocol of Agreement nearly 25 years ago during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Rogge congratulated Special Olympics on the successful completion of the recent Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011, and noted it as a world-class event in which all athletes were winners. Rogge also discussed the importance of how Special Olympics uses the spirit of ‘Olympism’ to promote using sport for a better world, from talking about how Special Olympics and the IOC can work together on issues such as health, education and social inclusion.
Later in November, Shriver will travel to China to continue to build Special Olympics global footprint when he meets with leaders in the sports and entertainment world including former NBA player Yao Ming, television show host and philanthropist Yang Lan and others. They will join Shriver to help raise funds for the launch of Special Olympics’ youth-based initiative Project Unify in China as Special Olympics continues to grow in the East-Asia region.
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, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard to World Games. 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.