Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi comes to an exciting finish
Abu Dhabi - The Games saw some 7,500 athletes display never-seen emotions during the competitions and on the podium too.
The UAE as the host of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 has scripted a new chapter of inclusion, acceptance and a more unified world. In two weeks of holding the largest-ever humanitarian event of 2019 the UAE executed to perfection its two-year-long plan. After hosting the most-unified games ever and setting new benchmark, the UAE passed the baton to Sweden but with a resolution that the journey towards an all-inclusive world continues.
The Games saw some 7,500 athletes display never-seen emotions during the competitions and on the podium too. They lent a helping hand to the fallen, became a shoulder to cry for peers and even shared their medals with those who didn't win.
They bridged differences and made the region and bigger world notice the champions inside them.
At the closing ceremony held in Zayed Sports City Stadium on Thursday, it was a celebration of determination, filled with tears of joy as the UAE bid goodbye to 200 nations.
The ceremony started with a tribute to some 20,000 volunteers who helped the UAE make the impossible possible. "What I learnt from working on the ground is that we are capable of creating change and a tolerant society," Noora Al Blooki, a leader of volunteers, said. Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver termed the games as historic and start of a new era.
He thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for giving the Special Olympics a 'new home'.
"Now is the beginning of the next part of our movement's journey - towards a world without discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities," he added.
President of Liberia George Weah, a former player at Abu Dhabi's Al Jazira FC, saluted the games. "It's a testament to your resilience, your commitment, your courage and your strength of will," he noted.
To keep the legacy of Special Olympics burning, the UAE has in store many initiatives and legislations. Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, said the leadership has approved formation of a 'Mothers of Determination Association', which will support the families of people of determination with education and training.
She noted that there were 31 projects like the Unified Champion Schools, which will help the people of determination realise all their dreams.
Minister of State and CEO of Adnoc Group Dr Sultan Al Jaber promised full support to fulfill the vision of the country.
He announced that Adnoc will enhance its recruitment and employee programme to provide people of determination with opportunities. Mohamed Al Junaibi, chairman of the Higher Committee for World Games, summed it up by saying that the games has ended but for the UAE the process has just started.
Emirati singer Hamad Al Ameri, Saudi's Rashid al Majed, Iraqi star Waleed Al Shami, former Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger and more added fervour. There was also the premiere of Games anthem Right Where I'm Supposed to Be.
At the end, Special Olympics flag was brought down and the Flame of Hope extinguished.