DUBAI // A new Athletics Grand Prix for special-needs sportsmen was inaugurated at a glittering opening ceremony in Dubai this evening.
Organised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), about 460 athletes from 32 countries were represented as the games began. The 5th Fazza International Athletics competition, organised by the Dubai Club Special Sport, forms the first heat of the new grand prix.
After Dubai, the tournament will travel to Beijing, Sao Paulo, Grosseto in Italy and Mesa in the US before concluding in Berlin on June 16.
The opening ceremony, which was held at the Dubai Police club, began with a Quran recital and ended with fireworks. Representatives for both the athletes and the referees swore an oath of honour and fair play.
The athletes will compete in distances from 100m to 5,000m on the track, and field events will include shot put, discus, javelin, hammer throwing and long jump. The entire event will be broadcast live on Dubai Sport TV station.
"Having such an international presence helps us improve our skills," said Afrah Ghayed, 29, who will compete for the UAE in the hammer-throwing event.
Last week, the IPC also held qualifying rounds in Dubai for athletes with a physical or visual impairment who want to compete in a world championship or the paralympics.
"I came here for classification, which I have already got," said Ben Rowlings, 16, one of the six athletes competing from the UK. He will compete in the wheelchair runs of 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres.
The Dubai tournament is expected to end on Tuesday.