A very Spe­cial city

Wheeler says Abu Dhabi ticks all the boxes ahead of 2018 MENA Games

Sport360 - - News Regional Cricket - By Den­zil Pinto @denz_360 den­zilpinto@sport360.com

Peter Wheeler, CEO of the 2019 Spe­cial Olympics World Games, which will be staged in Abu Dhabi, says they could not have asked for a bet­ter city to host the com­pe­ti­tion as well as next year’s MENA edi­tion.

The cap­i­tal was awarded the rights to stage the World Games ear­lier in Jan­uary. It will see more than 7,000 ath­letes with spe­cial needs and dis­abil­i­ties from 170 na­tions com­pete across dif­fer­ent multi-dis­ci­plines.

Be­fore that, Abu Dhabi will host the Spe­cial Olympics MENA Regional Games next year from March 14-23. With more than 1,800 ath­letes from 33 na­tions set to comFour­teen pete, the event will act as the dress re­hearsal for the elite com­pe­ti­tion 12 months later.

Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit was con­firmed as the venue for March’s opening cer­e­mony on Tues­day and Wheeler in­sists the UAE cap­i­tal ticks all the boxes when it comes to in­frus­truc­ture and achiev­ing their ob­jec­tives.

“To be part­ner­ing with Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit re­ally helps the Spe­cial Olympics be at a place where it wants to be,” he said.

“The World Games gives Abu Dhabi the op­por­tu­nity to high­light the achieve­ments of the skills and achieve­ments of our ath­letes. It will raise its pro­file. To be in a city like Abu Dhabi and have ac­cess to world class venues like Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit, speaks vol­umes to the mis­sion of the Games.

“The most im­por­tant thing is the The wel­com­ing, the hos­pi­ti­tal­ity, the com­mitt­ment, au­then­tic­ity of the peo­ple in the UAE re­ally wel­comes the Spe­cial Olympics. We could not have found a city or an Emi­rate or coun­try, that is more per­fectly in line with the mis­sion and value of the Spe­cial Olympics.”

While it will be the first time the World Games will be held in the Mid­dle East, the MENA edi­tion, which was last hosted in Egypt four years ago, will be staged in the UAE for the third time fol­low­ing Dubai (2006) and Abu Dhabi (2008).

Among the sports on the sched­ule are cy­cling, triathlon, foot­ball, ten­nis and bowl­ing with Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi National Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre (AD­NEC) and New York Univer­sity Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) four of the lo­ca­tions con­firmed for both events.

Wheeler is op­ti­mistic that any changes will be mi­nor for 2019.

“The MENA Regional Games is a smaller event but it’s the most ro­bust event that has ever been staged for a World Games,” he said.

“No other lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee has run an in­ten­sive test event lead­ing up to the World Games. It will cer­tainly test many things but we will see what we need to re­fine so that we can put the best pos­si­ble Games in 2019.”

We could not have found a city or coun­try that is more per­fectly in line with our mis­sion - Wheeler

Ready to open their doors: Peter Wheeler (r) dur­ing the Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit sea­son launch on Tues­day, which will host the opening cer­e­mony of the 2018 MENA Games.

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