IX Special Olympics MENA Games kick off in dazzling ceremony



Sat, 17 Mar 2018 - 10:42 GMT


Sat, 17 Mar 2018 - 10:42 GMT

 IX Special Olympics MENA - Egypt Today/Yasmine Hassan

IX Special Olympics MENA - Egypt Today/Yasmine Hassan

Abu Dhabi – 18 March 2018: Over 1,000 athletes from 32 countries held high their national flags as they entered the opening ceremony of the 9th Special Olympics Middle East/North Africa regional games in a dazzling parade on Saturday.

Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali walked at the forefront of the Egyptian delegation, which comprises of 78 male athletes, 37 female athletes and 40 coaches. The whole parade was led by Special Olympics global ambassador and famous Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmy.

Following the colorful parade and in the midst of the cheers and applauds of the audience, Special Olympics International Chairman Timothy Shriver welcomed the attendees and “the best athletes in the world” in an inspiring speech. “When I look out at this crowd, I see people of openness, people of forgiveness, people of strength, people of compassion and skill. I don’t see people with disabilities. I see people of determination,” Shriver said.

“Athletes, this is your time to prove that you can go for the gold, that you can lead an inclusion revolution. For the rest of us, there is no option. The only question is what role will you play, how will you join, when will you become a part of this inclusion revolution,” he added.

Ayman Abdel Wahab, president and managing director of Special Olympics MENA, started his speech by asking all attendees to stand up in salute for H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

“Your presence means a great deal to all the athletes, their families and all of us in the region, and significantly [supports] our vision of a changing world, a world of common acceptance, inclusion and joyful celebration of the human potential,” he said to all the attendees, from families to volunteers and athletes. “It is our hope that our vision of acceptance will stem from Abu Dhabi and take root in all nations across the world,” Abdel Wahab concluded.

2- SO
Egypt Today/Yasmine Hassan

H.E. Shamma El Mazroue, UAE minister of state for youth affairs and chair of the Special Olympics UAE board, affirmed how getting into the preparation process for the games highlighted the many similarities between the vision and the message of Special Olympics movement and the UAE principles.

“Special Olympics carries the torch of a divine message that does not only empower athletes with intellectual disabilities to play but it empowers the character of the athlete and the entire eco system…to become all what they can be. And these are exactly the founding principles of the United Arab Emirates,” she said.

7 - SO
Egypt Today/Yasmine Hassan

Following the inspirational speeches, Special Olympics athletes lit the “flame of hope”, signaling the start of the regional games that will take place starting Sunday in 16 different sports.

The games will take place in eight different venues, including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

6 - SO
Egypt Today/Yasmine Hassan

9 - SO

15 - SO

17 - SO



Leave a Comment

Be Social