The UAE government is supporting the Palestinian team to take part

28 February 2018, Abu Dhabi: Palestine has confirmed that a total of 32 athletes will represent the country at Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi.

The large number of athletes makes up the bulk of a 49-strong delegation, which includes 16 male and 16 female athletes. The UAE government is supporting the Palestinian team to ensure their participation at the Games.

The Palestinian athletes will compete across eight sports, including athletics, swimming, badminton, cycling, tennis, table tennis and weight lifting. IX MENA Games takes place from March 14 - 22 in Abu Dhabi.

Palestine has a proud history with Special Olympics, participating in every MENA Games with the exception of Tunisia in 2004.

Marwan Al Washahi, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Palestinian Special Olympics, said: “I’m always happy to see the Palestinian Special Olympics team participate in championships all over the world. Palestine’s participation reflects our efforts and commitment to be unified with the international movement of empowering people with intellectual disabilities and to take part in these global events that are considered a platform for people of determination.

“We are ready to participate in the regional games in Abu Dhabi next month, our athletes cannot wait and I would like to thank the UAE for its support. I’m sure that IX MENA Games will be a huge success and I believe in the UAE organization and Special Olympics committee to communicate the right message and values of Special Olympics to change perception and to overcome stigma.”

Since founding its Special Olympics movement in 1995, Palestine has always strived to be represented at regional and world games.

Nizar Batalat, Head of the Palestinian Special Olympics Delegation, said: "The organization of the regional games in Abu Dhabi is a step towards the realization of the State's policy on the human rights for people with intellectual disabilities, to live and participate. We need to thank the UAE government— His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi have expressed their solidarity and continuous support with the Palestinian people. We also extend our thanks and appreciation to the regional administration of Special Olympics International and all the members of Special Olympics Abu Dhabi on the efforts that they put forward to develop the awareness and participation in sports for people with intellectual disabilities.”

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.

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 venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the Emirati Capital, marking its first debut in the history of the MENA region.

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About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 8-22, 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 with 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.