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International Basketball Foundation (IBF) and Special Olympics Announce Partnership to Promote Inclusive Sport

Cooperation supported by NBA Legend and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Sam Perkins

Mies, Switzerland – 16 June 2019: The International Basketball Foundation (IBF) and Special Olympics announced their partnership during the FIBA Open in Mies. This cooperation marks their joint commitment to leverage the power of Special Olympics Unified Sports® with the aim of fostering inclusion on and off the basketball court.

“We are happy to grow the basketball family through this partnership,” said FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis. “Inclusiveness is at the core of the Foundation’s values, by joining our efforts with Special Olympics we are making basketball more accessible.”

Special Olympics Unified Sports® brings people with intellectual disabilities (referred to as “partners”) as equals on the same team. Unified Sports was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship, understanding and acceptance. Currently, of the 535,000 athletes participating in traditional Special Olympics basketball, there are more than 200,000 athletes and partners in Unified basketball.

“Special Olympics is pleased to be officially partnering with the International Basketball Foundation. We have had the unwavering support of the Foundation for the last two years in helping us bring awareness to the need for more inclusive sports opportunities for those with disabilities. Their initiatives to provide the positive benefits of basketball to a larger group of participants through 3x3 basketball and mini basketball aligns perfectly with Special Olympics’ inclusive Unified Sports program.”
Lou Lauria, Chief of Sport and Games, Special Olympics.

To mark this partnership, 12 Unified teams representing Special Olympics Programs in Switzerland, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy and Lithuania competed in the 5th edition of the FIBA Open at the House of Basketball in Mies.

Special Olympics Global Ambassador and NBA Legend Sam Perkins who watched the action on court, said, “These athletes are showing us the power of inclusion every time they get on the court. I see them playing together and cheering each other on together, truly embodying the purity of the sport. This partnership will bring more awareness to the need for continuing to develop basketball and providing more opportunities for continued growth in the sport.”

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 over 190 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, IKEA Foundation, the Lane Family, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International, 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

About the International Basketball Foundation

The International Basketball Foundation (IBF) is FIBA’s Foundation, founded in 2008. The IBF’s mission is to use the power of basketball to initiate positive change with the objective of reinforcing the integration of FIBA in initiatives undertaken to promote peace, social cohesion, inclusion and gender equality as well as facilitating dialogue and communication between communities, encouraging education, well-being, training and responsibility amongst vulnerable youth, through the practice of basketball and using its values as a vector.

To achieve these goals, the IBF has been implementing ‘Basketball For Good’ projects since 2016, reaching over 16’000 youths in 64 countries in only 3 years. The programs are implemented in partnership with FIBA Regional Offices, FIBA’s National Federations, local NGOs and partners with the aim of supporting collaboration between local actors and to drive economic growth in the relevant regions.

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