Abu Dhabi: With the nation’s great legacy of its forefathers, moral education and principles of the Special Olympics, the UAE will become the world’s first inclusive nation, Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver said on Wednesday.
Shriver delivered an impassioned speech at an audience at the majlis of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Speaking in front of Emirati Special Olympics athletes and delegates, Dr Shriver asked Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and other leaders attending the event to support the movement as it embarks on an ‘inclusion revolution’ around the world.
“Your Highness, we are here in Abu Dhabi to lead a revolution. We are here to lead the inclusion revolution, a revolution of the heart,” Shriver said.
Shriver’s organisation holds World Games every two years, alternating between summer and winter events, with the next competition in Abu Dhabi next year, marking 50 years since the launch of the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics IX Mena Games are running in the capital at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, where hundreds of athletes from 31 countries are competing to shape a new world of inclusion.
Shriver added the inclusion revolution is led by those who are poor in the eyes of a distracted world but are rich in love. It is determined to break down the invisible walls of fear and selfishness that separate us from one another. Shriver leads Special Olympics, a global movement of 5.6 million athletes in 172 countries and dreams of a world in which nobody stands in the way of people with intellectual disabilities.
“What we think is unreachable is not. Unity is possible. It requires only one thing: seeing one another, face to face, heart to heart. Seeing the lovable, valuable, formidable you. Ending shame by revealing the lie that we are separate and superior to one another. We are able. All of us. Beautiful, possible, capable, able,” Shriver said.
Shriver, whose mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics, oversees a body that has around five million athletes with intellectual disabilities and holds 100,000 events around the world annually.
Shriver, nephew of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy, says he hopes ordinary people will help turn the tide of prejudice and enable their goal to be achieved.
“There is a long way to go but we live in an era when change can happen quickly and we think in our 50th anniversary it can happen.”
After 50 years, Special Olympics is celebrating an anniversary, but celebrating more than disability rights, more than sports and fitness, more than games and heroes. We are creating a call for people all over the world to join together in a celebration of inclusion, of justice, of joy, and of most of all unity. This celebration will be led by young people all over the world, but especially the young people of the UAE who through their participation and support of the World Games will be the leaders of the unified Generation,” Shriver said.
Moderating the event, Shamma Suhail Faris Al Mazroui, Minister of State for Youth, said the UAE boasts a united nation. “United with and for one another. United is our namesake. A unified generation who are inclusive, holistic and uplifting,” the minister said.
The Special Olympics offer more than 30 Olympic-style individual and team sports from Alpine skiing to volleyball.