Rabat - Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi will kick off with the participation of 28 Moroccan athletes. The tournament will be held March 14-23.
According to a statement issued March 11 by tournament organizers, the Moroccan delegation will compete across nine sports: athletics, swimming, tennis, volleyball, bocci, equestrian, weight-lifting, table tennis, and skating.
Established in 1994, the Moroccan Special Olympics program has supported 11,850 athletes, according to the statement.
The communiqué recalled the important role of late Princess Lalla Amina of Morocco, who was “instrumental in supporting the activities of Morocco’s Special Olympics, from the hosting of the second Regional Games in 2000 in Rabat to the 2010 World Strategic Conference.”
President of the Moroccan Special Olympics, Sharifa Lalla Sumaya Al Wazzani, underscored the role of Special Olympics in improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing them with opportunities to develop their physical fitness and to highlight their sporting talents and skills.
The president of the Moroccan Special Olympics said that “the 9th Special Olympics for the Middle East and North Africa region […] will be a great event for our athletes to showcase their skills and abilities and to develop them.”
“It also provides a platform for people with intellectual disabilities to interact with the community, which will enable them to gain self-confidence and facilitate their integration,” she added.
The event will see the participation of 1,000 athletes from 31 countries. The event, according to the statement, “will be the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.”
Participating athletes will take part in 16 different sports that will be “hosted in eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.”
The statement added that the two events are part of “the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights the full integration of people of determination into everyday society.”