Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

From heads of state to footballers: who has worn the Special Olympics wrist band?

Across the world, people have been showing their support for the World Games

In just two weeks, the world will descend on Abu Dhabi for the Special Olympics World Games.

Thousands are expected to attend the games to cheer on the athletes, who have spent their lives training to bring home the gold.

But support for the athletes has already begun with heads of state, footballers and royals donning red wristbands to show that they stand behind the games and its participants.

From Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, to footballers like Mo Salah and members of the Al Ain FC squad, red bands have been cropping up worldwide.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wore his during his meeting with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed in Islamabad in January, while South Korean President Moon Jae-in wore one during the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi's visit to Seoul the following month.

During the trip to South Korea, Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, tweeted a photo of Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, wearing the band.

When worn with the red side facing out, the wrist bands read "meet the determined", referring to the athletes with intellectual disabilities who will be competing in the games in the UAE capital between March 14 and 21.

When turned inside out, with the white face on display, the band reads "be unified" and points to the Unified Champion website that prompts visitors to donate money to the charity that supports people with disabilities.

According to the website: "All donations go towards helping Special Olympics athletes on and off the field, and to driving forward initiatives that foster a unified society for all".

Those with wristbands are encouraged to wear them and post their own photos, proudly showing support. Photos directed at @WorldGamesAD on Twitter and posted using the hashtag #BeUnified may be featured on the official page of the games.

The Special Olympics is the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event and aims to empower people with disabilities, who are officially referred to as People of Determination in the UAE.

More than 7,500 athletes from a record-breaking 192 countries are set to take part in the games, which are being held in the Arabian Gulf for the first time.

Updated: February 27, 2019 03:22 PM

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