Spe­cial Olympics win­ter games set for Rus­sia

Iran Daily - - Sports -

The head of the Spe­cial Olympics de­fended its de­ci­sion to host the next win­ter games in Rus­sia, say­ing “a mir­a­cle has come from a po­ten­tial dis­as­ter.”

The event’s fu­ture was thrown in doubt when Swe­den with­drew as the host, BBC Sport re­ported.

But the Rus­sian city of Kazan will stage the games early in 2022.

Spe­cial Olympics chair­man Tim Shriver ad­mits the de­ci­sion may be crit­i­cized given Rus­sia is serv­ing a four-year ban from all ma­jor sport­ing events.

The Spe­cial Olympics is for com­peti­tors with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties; there is a fo­cus on par­tic­i­pa­tion and per­sonal de­vel­op­ment rather than medals. The win­ter games in­volve some 2,000 com­peti­tors from more than 100 coun­tries.

Rus­sia is cur­rently ap­peal­ing against the sanc­tions im­posed last De­cem­ber by the World Anti-dop­ing Agency (WADA). Rus­sia’s Anti-dop­ing Agency (RUSADA) was de­clared non­com­pli­ant for ma­nip­u­lat­ing lab­o­ra­tory data handed over to in­ves­ti­ga­tors in Jan­uary 2019.

But the Spe­cial Olympics is not a sig­na­tory to the WADA code, so even if the ban on host­ing ma­jor sport is up­held, its win­ter games can go to Rus­sia.

“We heard this, ‘you shouldn’t go to Rus­sia’,” Shriver told BBC Sport. “Wrong.

“Ev­ery time the Spe­cial Olympics move­ment hears you shouldn’t in­clude some­one, we bris­tle and we charge and we move for­ward. We go to Rus­sia in the face of some re­sis­tance but with an even greater de­ter­mi­na­tion to prove that our ath­letes can be bridge-builders.”

Shriver added, “In al­most 52 years, the Spe­cial Olympics move­ment has never had a dop­ing scan­dal. It’s not in our his­tory. We don’t play by those rules.

“Why would any­one dope in the Spe­cial Olympics move­ment? We’re not in­ter­ested in whether you’re the great­est of all time – we’re only in­ter­ested in what is your great­est per­for­mance.

“Rus­sia is not banned from that kind of sport, nor is any other coun­try on Earth, nor is any per­son.

“So, while the world of sport might be judg­ing by the WADA cri­te­ria – which are im­por­tant, don’t get me wrong – we judge by dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria.

“Are you will­ing to wel­come our ath­letes, to lis­ten to their voices and their chal­lenge to change the world? Rus­sia has said ‘we’re ready’ and there­fore we’re ready to go.”

spe­cialolympi­cs.org

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