New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) today unveiled the facilities that will be used for the Athletics and Power Lifting events during the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games set to take place in Abu Dhabi from March 14 to 21, 2019, as well as Athletics, Power Lifting, and Swimming events at the 2018 MENA Special Olympics Games scheduled to take place in March 2018.
Representatives from both NYUAD and the Special Olympics were present at the campus gymnasium for the ceremony that celebrated the university’s role as a future venue for the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Games. Speakers remarked on the university’s pride in its sports facilities as well as the significance of the diverse and multicultural character of NYUAD.
With more than 120 countries set to be represented among the athletes that will arrive in Abu Dhabi for the 2019 edition of the Games, a call for volunteers was opened among NYUAD’s diverse student population – composed of over 115 nationalities.
The gathering was addressed by NYUAD Vice-Chancellor Al Bloom; Special Olympics CEO, Peter Wheeler; Special Olympics Ambassador and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix; and two NYUAD student athletes – Class of 2020 Women's Volleyball player Sara Michelle Pan Algarra (Venezuela) and Class of 2018 Footballer Nikolaj Nielson (Denmark). The ceremony began with the first female Emirati Olympic swimmer and NYUAD Class of 2019 student Nada Al Bedwawi leading the procession of flags as the UAE flag-bearer, NYUAD student Algarra carrying the NYUAD flag, and UAE Special Olympics athlete Mariam Al Zaabi carrying the Special Olympics flag with NYUAD student Nielson.
NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom said, “An NYU Abu Dhabi education seeks to develop, beyond analytic skills and a deep and broad intellectual foundation capacity to build bridges of common understanding and purpose across the differences that splinter our world. Hosting the Special Olympics on this campus deeply reinforces our own aspirations for the university as an agent of global vision, engagement, and cooperation.”
Peter Wheeler, CEO of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, comments: "We had a series of site visits with our international technical team recently and they were blown away by the venues for the Games here in Abu Dhabi. NYUAD has world-class facilities as well as a hugely diverse student population who will make brilliant volunteers at the Games. We are looking forward to working with them to put on the most unified Special Olympics Games in history."
Set to be the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019, the Special Olympics World Summer Games will be hosting the first-ever games to take place in the MENA region in Abu Dhabi. Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, with more than 5 million athletes in over 170 countries and more than a million volunteers. The Games will feature seven days of competition in 24 sports including basketball, athletics, golf, tennis, cycling, and swimming.