Special Olympics, BWF Launch Initiative to Support World Games Athletes

December 15, 2021

Special Olympics United Arab Emirates (UAE) and UAE Badminton Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last month pledging to provide training support for Special Olympics UAE badminton players competing at the 2023 World Games in Berlin, Germany.

The ceremony on 21 November at the Dubai Sports Council confirmed a first-of-its-kind joint strategy involving a national sports federation and Special Olympics organisation, with the initiative continuing the push for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of badminton.

The strategy focusing on four main pillars – development, events, partnerships and communications – will be implemented with the support of regional and national partners of BWF and Special Olympics International.

Special Olympics UAE National Director, His Excellency Talal Al Hashemi, (right) and UAE Badminton Committee Chairman, Mr. Ghazi Sebil Ghazi Almadani (left) signing the World Games Training Pledge

“Badminton continues to grow within the Special Olympics movement globally, and in particular the UAE, where a tremendous effort has gone into expanding opportunities for athletes, following the successful Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi,” said BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer.

“Over the coming months, I hope to see many more Badminton Federations and Special Olympics Programmes joining their UAE counterparts in signing their own national pledges of support for athletes who will represent their countries in Berlin.”

The World Games (17-23 June 2023) will feature more than 200 shuttlers from over 60 countries.

Special Olympics UAE National Director Talal Al Hashemi said: “The agreement with the UAE Badminton Committee reinforces our goal of supporting People of Determination, particularly because the Unified Badminton tournaments have one of the most successful inclusive sports experiences we have witnessed in the UAE and the world.

“Choosing Special Olympics UAE to be the first to sign this pledge confirms the UAE’s strength in empowering People of Determination in sports and society.”

Badminton is one of the most rapidly developing sports in the world of Special Olympics, with more than 370,000 athletes enjoying it globally.

In 2015, Special Olympics International signed an MoU with BWF to promote the sport among Special Olympics athletes.

In 2018 and 2019, 62,000 new Special Olympics athletes and peers reached for their rackets and visited stadiums to play badminton, a clear indication of the sport’s popularity, and ability to attract more athletes across the world with the support of relevant organisations.

Following the great demand, 2019 witnessed the extension of the MoU during Abu Dhabi’s hosting of the World Games. Special Olympics UAE also signed an MOU with the Arab Badminton Federation in June 2021, which included virtual and physical programmes targeting coaches and athletes alike. This partnership now acts as a platform for exchanging experiences on the development of badminton and supporting the efforts of inclusion of People of Determination.

Earlier this year, BWF and Special Olympics International published the Global Development Strategy to further develop the sport and present equal opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to participate in all badminton activities.