Information on public access, venue locations and competition timings

12 March 2018, Abu Dhabi: On Sunday 18th March, Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 Abu Dhabi will begin in earnest with more than 1,000 athletes from 31 countries competing across 16 sports.

The entirety of the Games is open to the public to walk-in across all the eight venues, and UAE residents are encouraged to attend and support the UAE team and all international athletes.

The eight venues, the sports they are showing and their timings are as follows.

ADNEC is the main hub of the Games and will host five sports across its site: basketball, badminton, roller skating, volleyball and table tennis.

  • On days 1 and 2, competitions for all five sports will begin at 10:00 and finish around 18:00 — day 1 is the only day to see roller skating.
  • On day 3, volleyball and table tennis only have medal ceremonies, at 13:00, 13:30 and 15:00. Basketball and badminton have full days of competition from 10:00 onwards, wrapped up by their respective medal ceremonies at 17:00 and 18:00.

New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) will host three sports: athletics, swimming and power lifting.

  • On days 1 and 2, competitions begin at 10:00 with swimming finishing around 16:00, while athletics and power lifting go on until around 18:00.
  • On Day 3, there are only medal ceremonies for power lifting and swimming, at 13:30 and 15:00. Athletics has a full day from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Also on day 3 at NYUAD are two extra competitions, unique to Special Olympics:
  • MATP — motor activity training programme — is designed for athletes with severe or profound intellectual disability and significant physical disabilities who are unable to participate in official Special Olympics sport competitions because of their skill and/or functional abilities. MATP takes place from 09:00 to 11:30.
  • Speedball will be an exhibition sport in Abu Dhabi and resembles football but is played in a gym and players can use their hands as well as their feet. Speedball takes place from 15:00 to 16:30.

Zayed Sports City will host three sports: tennis, football and bowling.

  • On day 1, all competitions take place from 09:00 to 17:00.
  • On day 2, competitions start between 09:00 and 10:00, finishing at staggered times — bowling is wrapped up by 11:00; tennis is done by 12:00 with a medal ceremony at 13:30; football stops at 11:30, then restarts from 15:00 to 17:00.
  • On day 3, only football will be played with competition and medal ceremonies taking place in sequence from 10:00 to 17:00.

Armed Forces Officers Club will host just one sport, bocce, which is an Italian game with the basic principle of rolling a bocce ball closest to the target ball, which is called a palina.

  • On days 1 and 2, bocce takes place from 09:00 to 17:00 with a medal ceremony at the end of each day.
  • On day 3, bocce takes place from 09:00 to 12:00, with a medal ceremony until 12:30.

Al Forsan’s specialist facilities will host equestrian.

  • Day 1 for equestrian is divisioning — the qualifying process in Special Olympics.
  • On day 2, competition takes place from 09:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 17:00.
  • On day 3, competition takes place from 09:00 with medal ceremonies at 11:00 and 16:30.

Al Jazira Club will host just one sport: handball.

  • On days 1, 2 and 3, competition takes place from 10:00 to 18:30, with a medal ceremony on day 3 until 20:00.

Mubadala Arena will host one of the most iconic Olympic sports: gymnastics.

  • Taking place on day 1, competition starts at 10:00 and finishes with a medal ceremony at 16:30.

Yas Marina Circuit, using its famous track, will host the cycling.

  • On day 1, competition takes place from 10:00 to 16:00.
  • On day 2, competition takes place from 10:00 to 18:00.
  • On Day 3 there is no competition but a medal ceremony for cycling will take place at ADNEC at 14:00.

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.