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World Winter Games return to Austria

October 12, 2012

Graz and Schladming in Styria, Austria, will host the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Skiing 300 x 200

3,000 Athletes; 110 countries

Graz, Austria: The world’s largest sports and humanitarian event in 2017 will be staged in Austria. Special Olympics announced today that Graz and Schladming in Styria, Austria, will host the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

In 2017, Austria will welcome almost 3,000 Special Olympics athletes from 110 nations to compete in nine Olympic-type winter sports.  The Special Olympics World Winter Games returns to Austria, the location of the fifth Special Olympics World Winter Games in 1993 in Salzburg and Schladming. 1,600 athletes from 63 nations competed in five sports in these Games, which were the first World Games held outside the United States.

Speaking today at the press announcement in Graz, Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics said: “On behalf of our entire Special Olympics movement worldwide, I am thrilled to award our 2017 World Games to Graz and Schladming in the beautiful state of Styria. Austria was the first country outside the U.S. to host a Special Olympics World Games and helped us show the world the gifts and talents of our Special Olympics athletes. It is fitting that we would return to a country that has demonstrated its commitment to people with intellectual disabilities for decades and will embrace our athletes from around the world.” 


300 x 200 austria signing 2017

Signing of the Official Memorandum of Agreement between Styrian Government and Special Olympics

Official Signing

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed today by Mayor Hermann Kröll, President of Special Olympics Austria and Chairman of the 2017 Bid Committee and Dr. Timothy P. Shriver. Governor Franz Voves of Styria presided over the event and was joined by Franz Majcen, President of the Styrian Parliament, Mayor Siegfried Nagl of Graz and Mayor Jürgen Winter of Schladming.

“By hosting the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, Austria aims to strengthen and enrich the Special Olympics movement in all relevant social areas. As a nation that has been recognized for its work in human rights with a new constitution that guarantees equal treatment for people with and without disabilities, we look to use to the World Games to spread this message of inclusion throughout the world,” stated Mayor Kröll, Chairman of the 2017 Bid Committee.

“In the Styrian and Austrian tradition of warmth and hospitality, the 2017 World Winter Games will be promoted as the Heartbeat for the World, a place that will celebrate the extraordinary gifts and talents of people with and without intellectual disabilities joining together as one and a time to hail the lasting legacy of Special Olympics’ founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.”

Every two years, thousands of Special Olympics athletes worldwide come together to showcase their athletic skills and celebrate the spirit of Special Olympics, which holds over 50,000 competitions per year. The first Special Olympics World Games took place in 1968 and since then has 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 brings public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers that excluded them from the mainstream of the community.

The most recent World Games were Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 held in Greece. In just over 100 days, the next Special Olympics World Games will be the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games to be held in PyeongChang, South Korea from 29 January to 5 February.

More information can be found at www.2013SOPOC.org.

About Special Olympics:
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by 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 4 million athletes in 170 countries worldwide, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and related programs. Special Olympics takes place daily, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity 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


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