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Game on. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

All sights will be firmly set on Abu Dhabi this month as the UAE capital gears up to host the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 from March 14 to 21

On March 25, 2017, Austria drew the Special Olympics World Winter Games to a close with a spectacular ceremony witnessed by a packed stadium of fans in the city of Graz and millions across the world on television. It was then that Abu Dhabi began the official countdown to hosting the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

The Games are touted to be the largest sporting event of the year in Abu Dhabi as the UAE capital becomes the first in the Middle East to host a flagship global sports and humanitarian event. All eyes will be set on the emirate this month, as it gears up to host some 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches from more than 190 countries, 20,000 volunteers and an estimated 500,000 spectators from March 14 to 21.

Did you know? One of the fundamental differences between Special Olympics competitions and those of other sports organisations is that athletes of all ability levels are encouraged to participate. In a process known as divisioning, athletes are divided into groups that place them against people of similar abilities, genders and ages to create an equal playing field.  

A total of 24 sports will be played across 11 venues throughout the city during the week of the Games including Zayed Sports City (which will also host the Opening Ceremony), Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club, National Exhibition Centre, New York University Abu Dhabi and The Armed Forces Officers Club. Dubai will also host events at Hamdan Sports Complex, Dubai Police Academy and La Mer. Here, spectators can catch some of the world’s finest determined athletes battle it out in a host of games, from badminton, basketball and bowling to cycling and football, among others, to land a coveted medal.

For the UAE, playing host presents an incredible opportunity to showcase the nation’s commitment to inclusion and the empowerment of people of determination. Ahead of the event, His Excellency Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of The Higher Committee, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said: “Hosting the Games will enable us to foster greater community and regional engagement and generate the public attention we need to invest in the cause, expand our reach and create wider understanding and awareness of people living with intellectual disabilities.”

Diary dates for divisioning

Most matches run from 9am to 5pm with free entry for everyone

  • MARCH 12 AND 13 Badminton, Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Sailing, Bocce, Athletics, Cycling, Swimming, Table Tennis, Basketball, Football, Futsal, Tennis
  • MARCH 13 Roller Skating, Judo, Artistic Gymnastics
  • MARCH 15 Bowling, Equestrian Sports 
  • MARCH 15 AND 16 Kayaking
  • MARCH 17 AND 18Golf, Rhythmic Gymnastics  

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