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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 March 2019

Olympic spirit burning bright as Flame of Hope torch tour gets under way in Fujairah

The torch tour will visit all seven emirates during the countdown to the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi

Hundreds of people turned out in Fujairah as the Flame of Hope torch tour began a 10-day journey across the Emirates before the start of the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Two groups of athletes and law enforcement officers from around the world – known as the “Guardians of the Flame” – took part in the torch run through the emirate’s landmark sites.

The first group started their run at Al Hail Fort, one of the largest preserved archaeological sites in Fujairah, then made a stop at the emirate’s 120-­metre flagpole before they continued to Fujairah Adventures Park.

The second group of Guardians started their run from the first protected national park in the UAE, Wadi Wurayah and moved to Al Badiyah Mosque, the country’s oldest, then Al Aqah beach.

Both groups gathered at Sheikh Zayed Mosque at the end of each run and walked with members of the community, Fujairah sports clubs and local government officials to attend the final ceremony at Fujairah Fort.

Helicopters were hovering above the runners and roads were closed by Fujairah police from Sheikh Zayed Mosque to Fujairah Fort.

The Flame of Hope is carried through Fujairah as the countdown continues to the start of the Special Olympics World Games on March 14. Pawan Singh/The National
The Flame of Hope is carried through Fujairah as the countdown continues to the start of the Special Olympics World Games on March 14. Pawan Singh/The National

The Special Olympics World Games torch was greeted with a marching band upon arrival to the main ceremony which was attended by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah.

Among the crowds stood Ahmad Al Yamahi, a nine-year-old Emirati boy with Down syndrome, accompanied by his mother Fatimah Al Yamahi, who came all the way from Dibba to witness the special event.

“It’s a great day for us and we are proud that the country is hosting this special event that means the world to us and all the people in Fujairah,” said Ms Al Yamahi, 39.

“I came with my son who is so special to me and to show him that he is important and the country cares about him, and that he can be an athlete one day like them.”

Ahlam Jasim was also there to cheer on the torch runners alongside her sisters in a celebration of equality.

“It’s a great honour for us to be able to witness such a ceremony that shows how we all have equal opportunities and to see the Special Olympics torch lit in our emirate,” said Ms Jasim, 25.

“I was excited to post photos and videos of the torch being lit in my own town. It gives me great pride to show the world that Fujairah is part of this special event.”

The Flame of Hope arrived in the UAE from Athens last week on board an Etihad flight before the start of the Games on March 14.

The torch will travel the length and breadth of the country, being taken to about 100 different historic landmarks across all seven emirates, before the global sporting spectacle gets under way.

The Olympic flame will today move on to Ras Al Khaimah, where it will be carried to attractions such as Jebel Jais, RAK Museum and Al Jazirah Al Hamra Old Town.

The torch’s final destination is the opening ceremony of the Games, which will be held on March 14.

More than 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches, representing more than 190 countries, will descend on Abu Dhabi for the biggest Games in history and the first to be hosted in the Middle East.

Updated: March 5, 2019 08:39 AM

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