From 14-21 March 2019, the Special Olympics World Games were held in the Middle East for the first time in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Games began with a star-studded Opening Ceremony, including performances by Paul Oakenfold, Avril Lavigne and Luis Fonsi. Throughout the week, over 7,500 athletes competed in 24 sports. 200 nations were represented in Abu Dhabi, more than 20 of which were attending World Games for the first time.
Behind the scenes, over 20,000 volunteers and more than 300 local staff from 47 nations poured their hearts and souls into the event. Watch this video to experience the planning, behind-the-scenes action and execution of the largest humanitarian and sports event of the year.
The effects of hosting a World Games don’t end at the close of competition. At the close of the Games, the 2019 World Games Higher Committee and Local Organizing Committee announced that all schools in the UAE will become Unified Champion Schools—meaning students with and without intellectual disabilities will participate together in Unified Sports, youth leadership, and whole school engagement.
A Mothers of Determination Association will be formed to meet and support the needs of families of children with intellectual disabilities and to allow them to reach their full potential through education and training. The 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi has resulted in a legacy of inclusion that will last for years to come.