WORLD GAMES: Your Quick Need-To-Know Guide

It’s finally here, so to make sure you are fully versed on everything Special Olympic World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 here is your quick guide.

March 14, 2019
March 14, 2019

WORLD GAMES: Your Quick Need-To-Know Guide

It’s finally here, so to make sure you are fully versed on everything Special Olympic World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 here is your quick guide.

What is Special Olympics?

The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver who wanted to create a more inclusive and accepting world for people like her sister Rosemary who had intellectual disabilities.

What is the mission of Special Olympics?

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

How many people has Special Olympics helped?

Special Olympics has bloomed into a global movement and according to a census in 2016 numbers show that the organization’s reach has expanded to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners.

Why was the UAE awarded the Special Olympics World Games?

Abu Dhabi was announced as the host of the World Games in November 2016, having impressed the board with its bid as well as the country’s vision of building a world based around inclusion, equality and unity.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 helped to successfully set the stage for the World Games when 1,000 athletes competed from 32 nations.

In preparation for the World Games, the Higher Committee and the Local Organizing Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 were established to help successfully stage the biggest sporting event the region has ever seen. This included developing a range of initiatives in the UAE such as ‘Walk Unified’ where communities took to the streets to walk side-by-side walk with people of determination in support of inclusion.

The goals of the Special Olympics movement and the World Games are perfectly in tune with the UAE’s ‘Year of Tolerance’. Together, they combine to create a powerful message for social change not only in the region, but across the globe.

This government-led commitment to inclusion includes the UAE’s National Vision 2021, aiming to achieve the integration of people of determination into society and providing an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

Thanks to a passion for sport, a leadership dedicated to delivering real and positive change and a population eager to support Special Olympics, the World Games will be the defining sporting and humanitarian event of the year and the catalyst that creates a lasting legacy of inclusion that will have far-reaching benefits for generations to come.

What are the key statistics and numbers surrounding the games?

A record-breaking participation from 190 nations will make these Games the most unified ever in the 50-year history of Special Olympics. An expected 500,000 spectators will cheer for 7,500 Athletes, 3000 Coaches, 20,000 Volunteers in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in venues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE.

Where are the games actually taking place?

The Games are taking place across nine amazing venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They are all listed HERE . Just click on a picture and Google Maps will load for easy navigation!

I heard this are the most unified Games ever? Are there any other firsts surrounding the games?

Totally! Read more HERE and make your own firsts too.

What sports are being played at the World Games?




Beach Volleyball







Gymnastics - Artistic

Gymnastics - Rhythmic




Open Water Swimming


Roller Skating



Table Tennis




Can I watch?

Absolutely! Go to to register for your free ticket.

What is divisioning?

The goal of Special Olympics is to offer a real opportunity of participation and fair competition. Athletes are not excluded based upon scores or performance. Instead, athletes are divided into competitions that place them against people of similar abilities.

This process is called divisioning. This means every athlete with intellectual disabilities has the opportunity to take part and compete on a level playing field at Special Olympics. It is a fundamental rule which seeks to match athletes as much as possible, with others of the same gender, around the same age, and most importantly, of the same competitive ability. This type of competition-level matching makes Special Olympics events even more exciting and meaningful for both athletes and spectators by ensuring competitions are fair and empowering.

What is max effort?

To ensure a fair divisioning process that results in the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, athletes are expected to give maximum effort when competing in all trials and finals. The Maximum Effort Rule (MER) of Special Olympics ensures that there is no more than a percent, usually 15%, of difference in performance between an athlete’s seeding time/score and final performance. If an athlete exceeds their performance by more of the percent that has been set for that specific event, the athlete would be subject to disqualification proceedings. Coaches are provided with different stages where they can submit updates for the times / scores of the athlete, to avoid MER violations, and to place athletes in a division reflecting their actual ability.

What is happening at the opening ceremony tonight?

A total of 40,000 spectators are expected to attend the event at Zayed Sports City. The opening ceremony will see 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations walk into the arena as part of the athletic parade and the Law Enforcement Torch Run where the cauldron will be lit to symbolize the beginning of the games.

For music fans there is also a seriously special treat in store when not one, but two, Grammy Award-winning artists, get together to perform the official anthem of the Games. To read more about that click HERE .

I made friends with a really nice athlete, how can I follow their progress?

Just search for them HERE or browse the directory…

Where can I keep up to date on everything going on at the Games?

First you absolutely must download our app, the World Games app , at the App store or Google Store.

Also, keep an eye out on all of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Official social media channels for up to the minute action…