The Flame of Hope has been a symbol of respect and inclusion since the inaugural Games in 1968

15 March 2018, Abu Dhabi: With just days to go until Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018 begin, and one year to go until the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Abu Dhabi Police joined Special Olympics athletes on Wednesday to carry the Special Olympics ‘Flame of Hope’ across the UAE’s capital.

Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 2019, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world, with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing more than 170 countries

As part of a stunning torch run across the city, torchbearers carried the flame to four main iconic locations in Abu Dhabi. Beginning just after sunrise at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the torch was then carried to Emirates Palace before heading to Abu Dhabi’s latest cultural beacon, The Louvre and then heading to its final destination, ADNEC, ahead of the IX MENA Games’ opening ceremony on 17th March.

Members of the public were invited to watch the lighting ceremonies at each location, which was attended by several VIPs, dignitaries and members of the Local Organizing Committee.

The Olympic torch was received at Zayed Grand Mosque where Abu Dhabi Police organized a horse parade, with the attendance of HE Dr Yusuf Al Obaidli, Director General of the Zayed Grand Mosque. The flame then moved on to the offices of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), where it was welcomed by both Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of ADNOC and H.E. Mohammed Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

The torch then moved onto Emirates Palace, where it was received by a performance by the Abu Dhabi Police band. The flame then kept going to The Louvre and finally ended its journey by arriving at Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre just after sunset.

Since Special Olympics’ inaugural event on July 20, 1968, following many years of advocacy and action for social change, the organization has grown to include more than 5 million Special Olympics athletes across 172 countries.

The largest global amateur sports organization and global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is pushing forward as the “Global Inclusion Movement,” advocating for greater inclusion in all aspects of life including sport, health, education, and employment. With athletes at the forefront, Special Olympics is moving from an organization for people with intellectual disabilities to a social inclusion movement led by Special Olympics athletes.

More than 1,000 athletes from 31 countries will travel to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which will be the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes will take part in 16 different sports that will be hosted in eight different ven-ues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Of-ficer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club. Around 25,000 spectators are expected to visit the Games and over 5,000 volunteers will help drive the event.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

- ENDS -

About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 14-21, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world, with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing more than 170 countries. The World Games will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage and skill that are hallmarks of Special Olympics movement. The largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa, the World Games features 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in venues throughout Abu Dhabi. The spectacular opening ceremony on March 14 is expected to attract 45,000 spectators while being viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2019 World Games will be the most unified Special Olympics competition in history, with inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event. The Games are the most visible component of a planned series of initiatives by Abu Dhabi and the UAE to expand opportunity for people of determination (with intellectual disabilities), and to promote inclusion and understanding throughout the emirate, nation, and region. Plans for operation of the World Games include leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.