Bangkok, Thailand – 13 November, 2019: More than 150 delegates from 14 countries took part in the inaugural Special Olympics Asia Pacific Unified Badminton Championship held in Bangkok, from 13 November to 16 November 2019.
Hosted by Special Olympics Thailand, and supported by the Badminton Association of Thailand, the Sports Authority of Thailand and Plan B Media, the event displayed of power of sport to foster mutual understanding, respect and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities.
The championship welcomed athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to display their courage, passion and skills as part of a global movement to create positive change and drive social inclusion.
Thailand welcomed teams from countries across both the Asia Pacific and East Asia regions including Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.
“I am hopeful that this inaugural unified championship will foster deeper understanding and friendships between people with and without intellectual disabilities across the region. It confirms what millions of badminton fans across Asia already know—the power of sport to elevate, unite and include.”
The result of a global partnership between Special Olympics and the Badminton World Federation (BWF), this is the first unified badminton championship to be held in Asia since the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was announced during the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, UAE, held in March 2019. The long-term alliance aims to create growth opportunities and enhance participation in badminton events throughout the world.
In the Asia Pacific region, Special Olympics has collaborated with Badminton Asia and Badminton Oceania since 2018 to equip coaches with resources and skills to deliver inclusive, high-quality badminton training to athletes with and without intellectual disabilities. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 25,000 increase in the number of Special Olympics athletes taking up the sport across the Asia Pacific region.
Dr. Naris Chaiyasoot, Chairman of Special Olympics Thailand, said: “As one of the first countries in the Asia Pacific region to start unified sports—enabling people with and without intellectual disabilities to play together and foster mutual understanding—this is a great honor for Special Olympics Thailand to be chosen as the region’s pioneer to host this inaugural championship. Organizing this regional competition and creating much needed recognition for the Special Olympics movement in Thailand was made possible through our milestone collaboration with our key partners.”
The Opening Ceremony of the badminton championship, was graced by some of Thailand’s biggest music and sports stars. They include Special Olympics Thailand’s brand ambassadors, popular girl group BNK48 and singer Ada Chunhavajira. National badminton champion Boonsak Polsana will led the parade of athletes. Minister of Tourism and Sports Mr. Pipat Ratchakitprakan was in attendance as Guest of Honor.
About Special Olympics Asia Pacific
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, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 190 countries.
In the Asia Pacific region, Special Olympics has touched the lives of more than 1.9 million athletes across 35 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics, as a global movement, delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year.
About Special Olympics Thailand
Thailand was invited to join the Special Olympics Movement in 1987. It is registered as an independent National Sport Association under the Sports Authority of Thailand. In 1995 Thanpuying Niramol Suriyasat, Thailand’s 3rd Chairperson was invited to the Board of Directors of Special Olympics International.
Leading Special Olympics Thailand is the present Chairperson, Dr Naris Chaiyasoot, who has been instrumental in creating more opportunities and recognition for Special Olympics Thailand athletes, expanding the Program to reach 20,000 participants in every province in the country. Various sports disciplines are currently on offer as well as the Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) and Young Athletes for early childhood development. In addition to sports, Special Olympics Thailand is one of the world’s first national Programs to be recognized as a Special Olympics Healthy Community with the aim of improving health outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities through partnerships with healthcare agencies.