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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Stephanie McMahon proud of 'bond' between WWE and Special Olympics

She will be involved in the opening ceremony on Thursday

Professional wrestling personality Stephanie McMahon will be representing World Wrestling Entertainment at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 on Thursday.

"I remember volunteering at the World Games when they were in Connecticut, in the north-east of the US, when I was in high school," the American, 42, recalled of her first Special Olympics experience in 1995.

Ms McMahon is the daughter of WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, and the sport entertainment company's chief brand officer. The company's association with the event has grown in recent times and she is in the UAE to mark the start of the 15th staging of the Games.

Ms McMahon will be at Zayed Sports City for the launch of this year's Games, with 7,500 athletes set to take part in 24 Olympic-style sports at nine venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

"We have a decades-long partnership with the Special Olympics," she said on Wednesday.

"There is just something really special between WWE and the Special Olympics. Not only are we both truly about community and inclusion but there is this bond between our superstars and the athletes."

WWE have been involved in the build-up to the Games, with a number of their wrestlers making appearances in the UAE over the past 12 months.

Daniel Bryan, the current WWE world heavyweight champion was a guest at and participated in the Special IX Mena Games last March.

Four-time WWE women's world champion Sasha Banks visited Dubai in December for the 100-day countdown to the festivities and spent time meeting the athletes.

"It is not a part of their contractual obligations to do this work," Ms McMahon said.

"They do it because they love it. I have had so many of our wrestlers say that it is the best part of their jobs when they get to go into the community.

"To see them interact with the Special Olympics athletes, the way they hug each other, and the inspiration they draw from one another — it is a very special relationship."

WWE have shown support for the event by promoting it in their programming. Members of the US team were invited to attend the Elimination Chamber, a professional wrestling pay-per-view event, in Houston last month.

Ms McMahon was at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Wednesday afternoon to see the Flame of Hope arrive as its journey around the UAE, which started on February 28, nears an end.

She plans to spend her time in the country soaking up the atmosphere before she heads back to the US to help the WWE prepare for their biggest event of the year, WrestleMania 35, which takes place on April 7.

"I am going to be part of the opening ceremony tomorrow," she said.

"After that, I am doing everything I can to support our incredible partnership with the Special Olympics and Special Olympics World Games."

Updated: March 14, 2019 11:48 AM

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