IN PICS: Countdown to Abu Dhabi Special Olympics begins

Sport360 staff 13:15 25/03/2017

Emirati performers were put into the global sporting spotlight as the UAE capital officially began the countdown to hosting the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

They took to the stage as this year’s Special Olympics Winter Games came to a conclusion in Austria – putting on a show that featured UAE nationals from different segments of society, including Special Olympics United Arab Emirates athletes who competed at the World Games days before.

The performance, watched by a packed UPS Stadium in the Austrian city of Graz and by millions live on television around the world featured a live performance from popular Emirati singer, Hamad Al Ameri and used a traditional Bedouin desert setting to tell the story of how Abu Dhabi will use the Games to promote key values such as respect and inclusion for all in society.

As the show drew to a close, the Abu Dhabi delegation then revealed the logo for the Special Olympics World Games 2019.

The logo, which was inspired by the Emirati tradition of palm frond weaving (Khoos) is a metaphor for the unifying power of the Games, and demonstrates how Abu Dhabi will create a spirit of inclusion and unity between all members of society.

The UAE delegation, including HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and HE Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman and CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, the first sponsor for the 2019 World Games were all in attendance as the countdown began to the event in Abu Dhabi from March 14-21, 2019.

The flag handover represented one of the key moments of the Closing ceremony. Guests and viewers tuning in were treated to a visual extravaganza that highlighted the culture of current host Austria, as well as an array of entertainment centred around the values and cultural themes of the United Arab Emirates.

The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Local Organizing Committee also hosted a special reception for 300 people in Graz, which included an array of high-profile celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hussein Fahmy, and Special Olympics International Board Member and NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, in addition to delegation representatives from more than 100 countries competing at the World Games.

The event was used as an opportunity to invite the world to Abu Dhabi – from international dignitaries and celebrities to athletes and their families, and spectators from all walks of life.

With the handover now complete, it signals 24 months until approximately 7,000 athletes from 170 nations descend on Abu Dhabi for more than two weeks of competition.

Male and female athletes with intellectual disabilities from numerous cultures and backgrounds will compete alongside each other in a worldwide competition that showcases their sporting abilities in 22 sports, including gymnastics, basketball, cycling,figure skating, football and golf.

The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will feature 22 sports, including Football, Swimming, Cycling, Athletics, Equestrian and Powerlifting.

To find out more about the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics World Summer Games please visit – http://www.abudhabi2019.org and http://www.specialolympics.org.

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