Asia Pacific contingent will be part of the biggest ever Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi next March
Asia Pacific nations on their marks for the Special Olympics
All six Asia Pacific region nations have confirmed their participation in next year's Special Olympics World Games - helping to make the Abu Dhabi event the biggest ever.
Athletes from Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, and Micronesia will be part of the sporting spectacle, which will feature 7,500 athletes from more than 170 countries.
The countries all rolled out Special Olympics programmes to prepare for the extravaganza, which will be taking over the capital in March.
The number of countries already confirmed is the highest in the 50-year history of the Special Olympics.
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the games said it was keen for as many athletes with special needs from all over the globe to be given the opportunity to show off their skills.
Abu Dhabi's hosting will be the first time the Special Olympics have been held in the Middle East.
“The LOC is committed to supporting the Special Olympics aim of all people of determination across the world having access to the incredible opportunities that Special Olympics provides,” said Khalfan Al Mazrouei, Managing Director at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
“Our aim is to host the most unified Games in the history of the Special Olympics and we look forward to welcoming thousands of talented athletes from around the world to the UAE in March.”
Hosting the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi also comes as part of a series of initiatives to expand opportunities for people with special needs.
A workshop was heldby the LOC in Fiji to explain Abu Dhabi’s concept of tolerance and inclusiveness for all.
As part of the workshop, participants learnt about intellectual disabilities, early childhood development, and the importance of how a family support network and sports can help transform lives. Training sessions with athletes and coaches were also held.
The LOC is also working closely with Special Olympics to carry out specialised training programs for people with intellectual disabilities, in countries where such programs do not exist.
Members of the LOC visited the families of athletes during their time in Fiji to give them into an insight into the UAE ahead of their visit.