Special Olympics kicks off in Berlin with 7,000 athletes from 190 countries, regions

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About 50,000 spectators are expected for the opening ceremony of the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin this Saturday evening, reported Xinhua.

Millions might follow the competitions on TV or social media covering 26 different sports as 7,000 athletes with intellectual and non-intellectual disabilities from 190 countries and regions participate in the Berlin Olympic Stadium and other venues throughout the German capital.

The 2023 Games stand for the biggest multi-sports event in Germany since the 1972 Olympic Games held in Munich. Berlin is expecting over 300,000 spectators from June 17 to 25.

In addition to the traditional competitions, 16 events under the motto "Unified Sports" will take place to give proof of the value of inclusive sports when athletes with or without disabilities compete in one team.

Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International Board of Directors, called the Berlin Games a milestone in Germany's history "as we last in 1936 saw the Olympic flame to be lit."

The 63-year-old nephew of former US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy said the 2023 Games intend to increase access to inclusive sports in as many places as possible.

The Special Olympics International serves over six million Special Olympic athletes from more than 200 countries and regions to promote health, education, and a more unified world through the joy of sports, Shriver mentioned.

While Germany's squad is including 400 athletes in the world's biggest inclusive sports event, China has sent 89 athletes in a 128-member strong team with an age average of 21 years to compete in 11 disciplines of track and field, swimming, badminton, basketball, football, gymnastics, weightlifting, table tennis, tennis, bocce, and roller skating.

The Games are held every four years as the winter and summer Olympic Games.

Tom Hauthal said the competition in Berlin and daily training options "significantly increase the athlete's self-confidence and self-esteem."

Sports, the official added, is providing the chance to not only gain confidence but to allow an independent life for athletes learning to run daily working and private life.

Hauthal praise worldwide efforts to improve sports options "as I see a rapidly growing development in many countries."

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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