“The beauty of these games is that it is not just about competing, it’s about being included. What we’re trying to do is elevate the discourse from the individual to the collective… Someone must unlock the door, that’s the vision of The King, that’s the vision of The Crown Prince” H.R.H. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud (Vice-President for Development and Planning, Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority).

In a dedicated programme ‘100 Days to the Special Olympics’, CNN’s Connect the World with Becky Anderson, celebrated the start of the official countdown to the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.

The countdown commenced with the igniting of the Olympic Torch at Wahat Al Karama (Martyr’s Memorial) and with the lighting of 100 Arabian lanterns- to mark each of the 100 remaining days until the games.

The international broadcast, conducted in the presence of former Olympians and Special Olympians, included interviews with dignitaries, leading UAE government representatives and sports figures.

Athletes bring on the Special Olympics Torch during a dedicated programme ‘100 Days to the Special Olympics’, CNN’s Connect the World with Becky Anderson. 

Key Quotes:

Becky Anderson (Host of Connect the World):

“This is a moment in time we are proud to connect you with. Sometimes amidst the daily barrage of news and politics we forget those in society who struggle for rights and inclusion, who deserve to be seen and to be heard. We hope that these games will help inspire others in the region “

HE Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the 2019 Special Olympics

Speaking about inclusion and Abu Dhabi being chosen to host the event he said: “What we have in Abu Dhabi and the UAE is the ideal place for this event. We used to look for benchmarking but now we are the benchmark. We are not going to be inclusion only, they are going to be the leaders to come and we will be working with them to support their leadership.”

Her Excellency Najla bint Mohammad al‑Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development said,  “We believe that inclusion is at the heart of the government's work. For that reason, the Special Olympics World Games is a great and excellent opportunity for us to understand and reflect back on our government policies. The journey has been amazing, we still haven’t started the games yet, but a lot of work has been happening on the ground to ensure that we are equipped with the proper policies that will help ensure that this type of set up is a legacy for years to come”

H.R.H. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud (Vice-President for Development and Planning, Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority)

“The reason we are here is not only because we have young ladies participating for the first time, but we are also coming to learn so that all of our athletes, the young boys and young girls can benefit from the experience that the Emirates have gone through. We are taking seriously the role of the Special Olympics, not only from a sports point of view but really from the community integration and seeing how we can tie the family back into the dialogue- which is natural discourse for us in the Middle East- inclusion is our narrative. The dialogue has moved on from including women to including everyone and this is a community that deserves the recognition”

“The beauty of these games is that it is not just about competing, it’s about being included. What we’re trying to do is elevate the discourse from the individual to the collective… Someone must unlock the door, that’s the vision of The King, that’s the vision of The Crown Prince”

 

Source: Ketchum Raad