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Special Olympics Takes Centre Stage at SportAccord

Group of Special Olympics athletes and representatives.
Jon-Paul St. Germain (Vice President of Sport Development), Fiona Hynes (Senior Director of Sport Communications), Lou Lauria (Chief, Games & Competitions), Kiera Byland (Kiera Byland BEM, Global Athlete Congress Chair), Maggie Brennan (Senior Manager of Sport Development), Miroslaw Krogulec (SOEE Vice President of Sport), Erin Sennott (Senior Manager of Major Event Development), Niamh Nelson (Manager of Storytelling Activation & Sport Communication)

Special Olympics was out in force this week at one of the global sports industry’s biggest gatherings of the year—SportAccord. Held in the city of Birmingham in the United Kingdom from 7 – 11 April, the SportAccord summit brings together the leading International Federations and global organizations involved in the business of sport.

The Special Olympics delegation was led by Kiera Byland, BEM and chair of the Global Athlete Leader Congress and Special Olympics International Board member. Speaking at the event, Kiera highlighted the importance of the many meetings and discussions that Special Olympics held with a range of sport federations, host cities and other major event stakeholders over the course of the summit.

“This experience has been eye-opening, not just for me, but for the hundreds of international sport federations and organizations in attendance at SportAccord 2024. By being here in Birmingham this week, we have helped leading sport leaders to grow their knowledge of accessible and inclusive sport.

“These sport leaders will take our message of inclusion and go on to influence millions of individuals around the world. We came here with the mission to share Special Olympics’ message of ‘Choose to Include’ and I feel that we achieved this goal.”

One of the key features of the SportAccord summit is the gathering of global business leaders and host cities with the major International Federations and global sporting organisations in one location.

Over the course of the summit, the Special Olympics team held a series of meetings with international sport federations including the International Powerlifting Federation, the European Cycling Union, the International Floorball Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation, the International Volleyball Federation, the Badminton World Federation, the International Basketball Federation, the International Hockey Federation, the International Judo Federation, the International Canoe Federation and the International Cheer Union.

Discussions were also held with a range of host cities interested in learning more about the prospect of hosting a future Special Olympics major event.

One of the main aims for the Special Olympics team at SportAccord was to engage the wider sports world to ensure that the power and importance of inclusive sports is more widely understood and embraced.

Special Olympics International has expanded the reach and impact of its sport partnerships in recent times. Currently, Special Olympics is partnered with 18 International Sport Federations and multi-sport federations. At a regional level, the seven regions of Special Olympics International are partnered with 41 regional sport federations and multi-sport federations. While at the national level, Special Olympics country programs are partnered with more than 1000 national sport federations and multi-sport federations.

“Our presence at SportAccord enables us to solidify Special Olympics’ position as one of three of the most impactful sports organizations in the world, alongside Olympics and Paralympics. We are committed to building collaborative partnerships with international sport federations on behalf of our 4 million athletes, helping them achieve their maximum potential on and off the field of play.”
Jon-Paul Saint Germain, Vice President of Sport Development with Special Olympics International

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