Abu Dhabi ready for World Games, says Bell

Sunday, November 18, 2018

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THE United Arab Emirates will be the site of the largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019 when it hosts the Special Olympics World Summer Games from March 14 to 21.

This will be the first time the games will be held in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Lorna Bell, the Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) executive director, recently returned from the Head of Delegation (HOD) meeting in Abu Dhabi, and had high praise after touring the sporting facilities there.

“Abu Dhabi is fascinating, but I was also truly impressed with the facilities. I expect the games to be a dazzling display with 24 summer sports in world-class, fully efficient facilities which should contribute to a memorable experience for every athlete and guest,” she said.

Approximately 7,000 athletes from over 170 countries are expected to compete over seven days of sporting action.

The majority of the events are slated to be held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), while swimming and track and field competitions are to take place in Dubai.

The games will also feature other activities and programmes, including free Healthy Athletes screening, a Global Youth Summit and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Special Olympics Jamaica is expected to send 73 athletes to the 2019 games — the greatest number it has ever assembled for a World Games. Jamaica's contingent will also be the largest from the Caribbean.

Jamaica will compete in athletics, badminton, bocce, skating and swimming, unified basketball, unified football (men's and women's teams), and unified volleyball.

The other sporting events are beach volleyball, handball, table tennis, tennis, cycling, kayaking, open water swimming, sailing, triathlon, equestrian, judo, gymnastics, bowling, golf and powerlifting.

Bell is encouraging Jamaica and the world to support #MeettheDetermined as the athletes look to showcase their talent.

“Sport is the outlet for people with intellectual disabilities to integrate in society and I urge Jamaica to create inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities,” said the SOJ executive director.

Special Olympics is a global organisation that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The intellectual disabilities can either be acquired or genetic, and can include cases of cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, autism, and traumatic brain injury.

The unified programme brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team during competition.

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