Abu Dhabi: Eunice Kennedy Shriver first gave hope to the people with intellectual disabilities with her rebellious stand against discrimination, ignorance, and disparagement in 1968.
Fifty years down the line, the Special Olympics movement has finally reached the shores of the Middle East. The Flame of Hope that was lit by the rays of the sun at Athens, Greece, last week has already reached the capital.
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) played host to the Special Olympics’ Flame of Hope, with a Torch Ceremony held at the Founder’s Memorial, under the patronage of Lt. General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO, together with thousands of ADNOC employees, welcomed the Torch Run team.
Starting on Monday, the torch relay gets under way from the Wadi Al Wurayah Waterfalls in Fujairah and will be carried around the UAE for 10 days with a strong message of courage, celebration of diversity and pledge to unite communities in UAE and around the globe.
The flame would then reach the Zayed Sports City Stadium on March 14 where following a glittering opening ceremony, 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches, representing more than 190 countries, will take part in the biggest Special Olympics Games in history. They will participate in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sport in world-class venues throughout Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 reflects the values of inclusion, co-existence, and humanity that are embedded in the very core of the UAE. Hosting the games in the Year of Tolerance reinforces the UAE’s ethos of active inclusiveness and our wise Leadership’s vision to build a society where people of all cultures and abilities are welcomed and celebrated,” said Al Jaber.
Khalfan Mohammad Al Mazrouei, Managing Director of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said: “The symbol of tolerance and unity echoes the fundamental principles of the UAE and the Flame of Hope is a beacon that lights a path forward for a more inclusive world.
As we prepare to welcome athletes from more than 190 nations to the UAE for the World Games, the Law Enforcement Torch Run that begins in Fujairah tomorrow will spread this vital message to every corner of the country so that communities throughout the Emirates will be able to show their full support to People of Determination and the shared vision of a unified society for all.”
Major General Ahmad Nasser Al Raisi, Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior, added: “All ministries, government agencies and national institutions are actively engaged in the effort to ensure the success of this international event. The Flame of Hope Torch Run is the last event in the run-up to the World Games, emphasising the keenness of all concerned to make this global humanitarian event a success.”