Mary Davis (left), CEO of Special Olympics, Hessa Bint Eisa Bu Humaid (centre), Minister of Community Development, and Saif Saeed Gobash, Member of the Higher Committee for Special Olympics, at Adnec in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Special Olympic’s legacy will live on long after this week’s historic Games, according to officials.

The government has already chalked out 31 initiatives for People With Determination, to be rolled out by the UAE Cabinet within the next month.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Hessa Bint Eisa Bu Humaid, UAE Minister of Community Development, promised more as she responded to a question from Bilal Hafeez, a 35-year-old Pakistani with cerebral palsy, who is covering the Games as a journalist. Ayman Abdul Wahab, regional president, Special Olympics Mena, too responded to Bilal’s question by saying: “It’s a very good question. The legacy has been a part of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) since day one.”

“In 2018 alone there have been more than eight government policies, rules and regulations that have been changed to support the legacy of Special Olympics movement and improve the lives of People of Determination,” Bu Humaid said.

Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics International, hailed the move. “I’m excited about the 31 initiatives. I know there is an openness in this society to ensure that all our athletes feel included. If we can send this message to the world with the staging of the Games here, that itself will be an enormous legacy,” said Davis, who thanked the UAE for inviting 20-plus debutant countries to take part in the Games.

“We will be working on many fronts. Mainly, we will get the best out of these Games. We are celebrating 50 years and Abu Dhabi has already set the bar very high for the next 50 years,” Davis added.