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Inaugural Special Olympics UAE Games 2024 kick off

Inaugural Special Olympics UAE Games 2024 kick off
8 June 2024 08:26

ABU DHABI (WAM)

The inaugural Special Olympics UAE Games kicked off at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), with nationwide participation of over 600 athletes from across the UAE.

The Games will run from June 7-10, as athletes compete in six different sports: bowling, badminton, basketball, football, powerlifting, and e-sports.

The opening ceremony was held in the presence of Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Federal Protocol and Strategic Narrative Authority, Ghanim Mubarak Al Hajeri, Director-General for the General Authority of Sports, Dr. Noura Khamis Al Ghaithi, Under-Secretary of the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, Ayman Abdel Wahab, Regional President of Special Olympics Middle East and North Africa, and Arif Al Awani, Secretary-General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, and Abdullah Al-Humaidan, General Secretary of Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, and Talal Al Hashemi, National Director, Special Olympics UAE, as well as senior representatives of Special Olympics MENA, Special Olympics UAE, the Department of Community Development, the sports councils of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, the General Sports Authority, the National Olympics Committee and various national sports federations, and featured participating athletes’ parade and the lighting of the UAE Games torch.

Participating athletes hail from People of Determination clubs and centres from across the Emirates, including Abu Dhabi Club for People of Determination, Al Ain Club for People of Determination, Dubai Club for People of Determination, Al Thiqah Club for Disabled, Ajman Club for the Disabled, Ras Al Khaimah Centre for People of Determination, Khorfakkan Club for the Disabled, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Heroes of Hope, Emirates Down Syndrome Association, Ras Al Khaimah for Welfare and Rehabilitation Centre for People of Determination, Dubai Club for People of Determination, Fujairah Centre for People of Determination, Dibba Al Fujairah Centre For Care And Rehabilitation Of People With Disabilities, Al Noor Rehabilitation and Welfare Association for People of Determination, and the various local centres operated by Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination across Abu Dhabi emirate.

Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE and Chairman of the UAE Games, reflected on the success of the Unified Schools UAE Games, which took place from 21st to 22nd May, commenting: “Following the tremendous success of the Unified Schools UAE Games, we are proud to mark the official launch of the second phase of this landmark event for clubs and centres for People of Determination. These remarkable athletes personify resilience, they continue to inspire us all and demonstrate the power of sports to drive inclusion and unity. Through their participation in the Special Olympics UAE Games, we encourage them to develop their skills, build lasting friendships, and celebrate the success of their dedication and teamwork.”

He continued, “We are thankful for the guidance of our leadership that emphasises the significance of results-orientated efforts to empower People of Determination with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are also grateful for the contributions and support of our sponsors and partners including Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre (ADNEC) for hosting the Games, Integrated Transport Centre, Abu Dhabi Police, as well as Burjeel Group and Appolonia Dentistry for Children, for providing valuable support to the Healthy Athletes screenings. Today, along with our partners, we continue to establish the UAE’s position as a global leader in empowering People of Determination across all sectors, namely the sports and healthcare sectors. We also thank all the coaches, medical staff, technical staff, caregivers, and family members of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Health Screenings with 160 doctors and medical volunteers

The UAE Games will include several complementary activities from the Special Olympics UAE Health Program. A health screening will be made available to all participating athletes, and it covers feet and hearing health, oral and dental health, mental health, and eye checks, which are managed by more than 160 doctors and medical volunteers from across the UAE, in collaboration with more than 20 partners in the healthcare sector.

Doctors from the UAE, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman and Algeria will participate in a training session, in collaboration with Special Olympics MENA, to equip them with the knowledge to make accommodations and modifications and increase their ability to deliver compassionate healthcare to People of Determination with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Community Events

The UAE Games includes several complimentary activities taking place alongside the primary competitions. These activities, made possible by the support of our partners, include various sports activities open to community participation, which aim to maximise unified engagement and experiences.

Community-wide sports activities include bowling activations, in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development’s Centres for People of Determination, in addition to basketball and football activities, held in collaboration with Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination, as well as unified experiences organised by Jam Academy.

Local Golisano Health Leadership Awards 2024

During the UAE Games, the winners of the highly acclaimed Local Golisano Health Leadership Award will be announced.

This award represents the highest accolade offered by Special Olympics for organisations that contribute to the expansion of inclusive and compassionate healthcare across the country.

The Golisano Health Leadership Award is also the most prestigious award across the inclusive health sector and Special Olympics International on a global scale.

Strategic Partnerships across the Private and Public Sector

In partnership with local sports federations and Councils across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, the inaugural Special Olympics UAE Games aims to showcase the role of sports in furthering the inclusion of People of Determination into the community.

The Games have received nationwide support from key local organisations including ADNOC; strategic health sponsor, Aldar Properties; sponsoring the low abilities activation, Integrated Transportation Centre; key transportation provider, Nedaa; logistics service provider, UAE Badminton Federation; providing badminton courts for the Games, Emirates Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation; providing sports equipment, as well as key health partners, such as Appolonia Dentistry for Children, and SEHA, who are contributing to the Healthy Athletes screenings. This is in addition to entities that have made significant contributions on an organisational level, such as Emirati Marshalls, who are providing volunteer support on the ground.

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