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Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019

Dates: 14-March-2019 to 21-Mar-19

Location: ABU DHABI | UAE

The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games are a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the tradition of the Special Olympics movement. They will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from March 14–21, 2019.

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About the Special Olympics World Summer Games

Two years after the great home games, Special Olympics Austria is once again hosting a major international event. From 14 to 21 March, the World Summer Games will take place in the United Arab Emirates. The red-white-red delegation will participate with 61 athletes and 21 unified partners, supported by 20 coaches.

While in most regions of Austria you can’t think of summer at all, for the local Special Olympics athletes it will soon be time to pack their suitcases and head for the desert! In March, the first Special Olympics World Games will be held in the Arab world, with the United Arab Emirates hosting around 7,500 athletes from 192 nations – among them 61 athletes from the nine German states, 21 unified partners (athletes without any impairment) and 20 coaches. For many in the domestic delegation, these are the first world games ever, but for everyone they are definitely a great adventure and a journey to another world in terms of climate, culture, religion and society. The World Summer Games will take place in March for the sole reason that athletes with intellectual disabilities will be offered “more pleasant” temperatures when competing. Even though at this time the thermometer is always rising in the direction of 25 to 28 degrees Celsius.

“There will certainly be great world games and I am convinced that the first World Games in the Arab world will exceed all expectations. Abu Dhabi has spared neither cost nor effort to show the whole world that it can offer athletes from all continents a perfect stage,” says Jürgen Winter, President of Special Olympics Austria. What particularly pleases him is that the participation in the World Games in Abu Dhabi is supported by the Ministry of Sport. “After the home games in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau, this was a very important step for us and a great success. Our athletes are therefore on an equal footing with those athletes who compete at the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games”.

The largest delegation in terms of numbers is from the federal state of Vorarlberg with 13 athletes, 6 unified partners and 7 coaches. Styria (17), Carinthia (15) and Salzburg (12) also send numerous people to the desert state.
As far as sports are concerned, the Austrians compete for the coveted medals in 13 of the 24 sports on offer: Boccia, bowling, football, golf, judo, athletics, powerlifting, cycling, horse riding, swimming, sailing, tennis and table tennis. Austria is also represented in the demonstration competition dance sport with two dancing couples (one athlete each with a unified partner).

Preparing for the summer games in March is not always easy for Austria’s team. The cold season and above all the snow in many regions of the country have made it difficult for sailors and golfers, among others. They have to find alternatives for their training sessions and preparations, sometimes even to avoid them in neighbouring countries. “Nevertheless, our athletes will be well prepared for the start, thanks to the coaches and unified partners who have worked hard over the past weeks and months. We can board the plane with joy and hope at the beginning of March”, sports director Heinrich Olsen is optimistic.

The sailing teams definitely have a big challenge ahead of them: they have to compete in a different type of boat in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Abu Dhabi. “They have all been preparing themselves in the 420 class since summer, and before Christmas the organisers surprisingly changed the boat classes. This means that they are now sailing not in the 420 but in the laser,” explains Olsen. This of course requires a lot of change for the unified teams, so the sports director is currently planning to travel to Abu Dhabi three days earlier so that the athletes and unified partners can prepare even better. “Maybe we’ll fly with the sailors, golfers and footballers on March 5th so they can put in a few more training days”.