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Countdown to Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

Largest Games in 50 year history with 7,500-plus athletes, 190-plus nations, 24 sports and more.

Washington, DC – February 26, 2019: More than 7,500+ Special Olympics athletes from more than 190+ nations are making final preparations to participate in the Special Olympics World Games (“World Games”) taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), March 14 through 21.

World Games are the largest sports and social inclusion event on the planet—demonstrating to the world that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are the greatest teachers and leaders of inclusion. The first World Games in the Middle East and North Africa Region, the event is a showcase of a world of full inclusion for people with ID in sports, education, health and leadership.

“Special Olympics World Games are a snapshot of the world of full inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities yet to be achieved—and an invitation to everyone to join our athletes as they lead an all-out effort for more inclusion and to end the fear of difference everywhere.”
Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics.

Along with thousands of athletes, coaches, fans and family, World Games will welcome international leaders from government, entertainment, education, health and business.

Special Olympics athletes will compete in 24 Olympic-style sports in nine venues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai: Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Bocce, Bowling, Cycling, Equestrian, Football, Golf, Gymnastics - Artistic, Gymnastics - Rhythmic, Handball, Judo, Kayaking, Open Water Swimming, Powerlifting, Roller Skating, Sailing, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Triathlon, and Volleyball. ESPN, working with host broadcaster Abu Dhabi Media, will provide sports fans with multiple live feeds each day on ESPN3, delivering more than 25 hours of live coverage across venues and competitions.

World Games will also play host to other events designed to advance inclusion: The Global Youth Leadership Summit will bring together young people working on innovative inclusion projects. The Global Inclusive Health Forum will focus on the importance of public health workers.

Other highlights include: the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, bringing together hundreds of law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from around the world; the Stand-up for Inclusion concert; and the much-anticipated Inclusive Arts exhibition. Attendees can expect a vista of Unified play activities—bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities.

Check out World Games at and Follow us on social media: @SpecialOlympics and @WorldGamesAD and use the hashtags #AbuDhabi2019, #meetthedetermined and #choosetoinclude. Tune in to World Games on ESPN3 for multiple live feeds each day, delivering live coverage across venues and competitions.



Media Registration

Media may apply for World Games credentialing here. The deadline for application is March 1, 2019.

Special Olympics World Games

Special Olympics World Games are the largest sports and social inclusion event on the planet—advancing a world of full inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in sports, education, health and leadership. Bringing together thousands of Special Olympics athletes from across the globe, World Games take place every two years, alternating between Summer and Winter Games.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions ClubsInternational Foundation, Microsoft, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium. Learn more at

Media Contact

Mark Daley
Special Olympics International
P: (202) 824-0389