DETROIT, Michigan, USA, 31 July 2022 – The Special Olympics Unified Cup, presented by Toyota and modeled after the FIFA World Cup™, will host an Opening Ceremony at The Corner Ballpark, 31 July at 2:30 p.m. EST, launching a week-long football (soccer) competition featuring over 300 footballers from more than 20 nations playing on Unified teams—consisting of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities.
The first stand-alone event of its kind, the Detroit event from 31 July – 6 August will mark the world’s most inclusive sports competition. The Opening Ceremony line-up will feature remarks from Special Olympics athletes around the world, and a welcome from Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI) President & CEO, Tim Hileman.
Nearly 10,000 spectators, 1,000 volunteers, and 500 family members and dignitaries will be welcomed at the Opening Ceremony, including more than a dozen Unified Cup ambassadors. The event revolves around the common mission of celebrating the joy of sport and the power of inclusion through camaraderie, competition, and breaking down social barriers. The Opening Ceremony and match play are open to the public and free to attend.
“I love seeing the sights and sounds and the excitement building up,” said Shaye Taylor, Special Olympics Ohio athlete, who will be performing the National Anthem at Opening Ceremony alongside her fraternal twin sister, Sharita Taylor.
“I am not just excited about performing, but I am looking forward to a week of making new friends from around the world, cheering them on, and seeing real inclusion in action. When you are on the playing field, no one sees disability, they see everyone bringing their best to competition – everyone is equal,” Sharita Taylor said.
Interviews will be made available to the media during a press conference following the Opening Ceremony at 3:45 p.m. EST on the field at Corner Ballpark. Media must be credentialed and provide proof of vaccination for entry – no exceptions.
The Corner Ballpark
1680 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48216
Media credential pick-up is available on-site at the Media Center from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The Media Center is located on the first floor of the concourse near the third baseline.
Schedule of Events
10:00 a.m. Final Leg: Law Enforcement Torch Run
2.5 mile run through Detroit featuring nearly 100 Law Enforcement partners and Special Olympics athletes spreading awareness of the Unified Cup featuring Law Enforcement Partners and Special Olympics athletes, carrying the Flame of Hope
12:00 p.m. Doors open to public at Corner Ballpark
12:45 p.m. National Anthem
Performed by Shaye & Sharita Taylor, Special Olympics Ohio athletes
1:00 p.m. Women’s Competition Begins
- Special Olympics USA vs. Special Olympics Egypt
2:30 p.m. Opening Ceremony
- Tim Hileman, President & CEO, Special Olympics Michigan
- Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel, Pure Michigan
- Emanuelle de Souza, Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger
- Max Hinga (athlete) and Greg Thomas (Unified partner), Michigan Unified Soccer Pair
- Thornetta Davis Band – “Queen of the Detroit Blues”
3:45pm Press Conference
The men’s and women’s Division One finals will be streamed live at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, 6 August from Keyworth Stadium—home of the Detroit City Football Club—to hundreds of millions of viewers across the globe by ESPN, the Global Broadcast Partner of Special Olympics International and the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®. ESPN3 will broadcast the women’s and men’s championships beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, August 6th. ESPN3 can be accessed by visiting www.espn.com/watch. ESPN will also be producing an hour-long Unified Cup special that will air on Saturday, August 13th at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN2 titled Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022.
Tickets for the final matches are available here.
About Special Olympics Michigan
Special Olympics Michigan Inc. (SOMI) provides year-round sports training and athletic competition to over 23,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities and Unified partners (athletes without intellectual disabilities). Athletes develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy while participating in the sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship among their families, Special Olympics athletes, and the community. SOMI is a non-profit organization supported almost entirely by corporate and individual gifts and events. The generosity of Michigan organizations, individuals, and statewide businesses enable the program to continue.
About Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022
The Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 is made possible thanks to support from sponsors Toyota, ESPN, Ally Financial, Gallagher, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network, The Coca-Cola Company, Jersey Mike’s Subs, The Real Estate One Charitable Foundation and Walmart. For more information, visit unifiedcup.org and stay up to date on our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
About Special Olympics
Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedInand our blog on Medium. Learn more at www.SpecialOlympics.org.