Belgium, Brussels: Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for athletes with intellectual disabilities announced today that Antwerp, Belgium will be the host of the 2014 Special Olympics European Games.
Speaking at a press event near Brussels, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy pledged his support for the success of the 2014 Games: “The European Council congratulates Belgium on becoming the host of the 2014 Special Olympics European Games. As well as being a great sporting event, these Games will bring public attention across Europe 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”.
Taking place from September 13th – 20th 2014, the Games will attract more than 2,000 athletes from 58 nations to compete in eleven Olympic-type sports over 10 days of competitions. More than 40,000 spectators are expected to visit the competitions taking place in the same world-class venues which hosted the 2006 Belgium National Games, while 4,000 volunteers will be recruited to support all activities.
With free health screenings for athletes, a Youth Summit, Family Symposium and an art exhibition, the 2014 Games will also provide a venue for global discussions and action on the impact Special Olympics can have on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
More than 200 million people worldwide have an intellectual disability, making it the largest disability group worldwide. Intellectual disability crosses racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic lines and can occur in any family.