Lit in Athens and brought to Abu Dhabi, the arrival of the Flame of Hope marked the start of the Special Olympic World Games in the United Arab Emirates. For the first time, the global sports event dedicated to people with intellectual disabilities was held in the Middle East.
The United Arab Emirates’ aim in hosting this year’s Special Olympics was to make it the most inclusive Games yet – which meant having people with intellectual disabilities, who they have monikered “People of Determination” at all levels of the organisation.
At the Special Olympics World Games, the world comes together to give intellectually challenged athletes the opportunity to push limits and break barriers through sport. Despite being more vulnerable to health risks, the intellectually disabled often receive less than high-quality health assistance.
Abu Dhabi is currently filled with stories of courage and perseverance, but one, in particular, has produced tears of joy: that of a 31-year-old Senegalese footballer, Mame Mdiaye, who got to hear for the very first time, thanks to the Olympics’ Healthy Athletes Initiative.