Special Olympics World Games 2019 began at Abu Dhabi in the UAE on Thursday evening.
The event has already made history by welcoming a record-breaking 200 nations at the Games.
The Indian contingent, second largest after the host UAE marched proudly holding the tricolour. Being held in the Middle East for the first time, 7,500 athletes will take part in 24 Olympic-style sports over seven days.
Nine world-class venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai will accommodate 500,000 spectators, 1,500 officials will referee the Games, while 3,000 coaches will assist the athletes. For the first time, 200 nations are being represented at the World Games -195 participating and 5 observing. A large number of women athletes is also competing at the games.
The Indian Contingent with 284 athletes, is the second largest after the host UAE. The athletes of determination will not only be competing for gold, but will also be shattering perceptions and will redefine what it means to be truly determined.
Abu Dhabi and the UAE have rolled out the red carpet for the 7500 athletes from nearly 200 countries who have arrived here for the 15th Special Olympics World Games which begins with a grand opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
“We look at the people of determination, as we call them in here, with admiration,” said Essa Buhumaid, the Minister of Community Development on Wednesday. “We are grateful to the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, for his continuous support. He is the man behind the Special Olympics in the UAE.”
And the Emirates has put its best foot forward to make the Games a grand party and among the expected guest are former long jump world record holder Bob Beamon and famed singers Nicole Scherzinger and Erika Ender.
“The first Special Olympics World Games was held 50 years ago and now Abu Dhabi has set what could be the standard for the next 50 years,” said Ayman Abdel Wahab, the Regional President, Special Olympics.