The 2020 United Through Sports Virtual Youth Festival is the first of its kind virtual celebration of inclusion. Special Olympics, alongside the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and 60 other sport organizations and NGOs, have come together to keep youth engaged and active during the global pandemic. This is the first time Special Olympics, the IOC, and the IPC have partnered in the same event. Special Olympics will host two events for athletes with and without intellectual disabilities: a seven-week fitness challenge and a talent festival.
On 20 November, the Opening Ceremony will feature panels and workshops from world leaders, high-profile athletes, and young people. The hybrid festival will have limited events in Bangkok, Thailand, and a full lineup of virtual programming. Major leaders from the international sports community, youth, and athletes will come together (virtually) to hear and speak in panels and workshops. Special Olympics CEO Mary Davis will speak at the Opening Ceremony, and the Special Olympics International Board of Directors will be represented by Special Olympics Australia athlete leader Ben Haack, who will be a panelist discussing inclusion, equality, and non-discrimination in sport.
During a time when it’s difficult to be physically together, events like the United Through Sports Virtual Youth Festival are helping to keep young people active and connected around the event’s slogan “One spirit. One heart.”