March 24, 2023

Four Year Anniversary of Special Olympics World Games 2019 Abu Dhabi

Wide shot the opening ceremony stage. Athlete spectators are lit up with a read spotlight.

Special Olympics athletes light the torch of the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi, on March 14th, 2019.


Tuesday, March 14th marks the fourth anniversary of the Special Olympics World Games 2019, which took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was the largest and most Unified Games to date, with 7,500 athletes representing a record 200 nations. An unparalleled number of volunteers, 20,000, registered to donate their time and services.

The 2019 World Games were full of inspiring stories, including the inaugural participation of female athletes from Special Olympics Saudi Arabia in World Games. Their first of several medals was earned in bocce. In fact, female representation was the highest of any World Games with more than 2,500 women competing. This feat inspired the World Games Berlin 2023 to strive for equal participation from men and women for the first time.

In the months following the Games, Special Olympics and the His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of UAE launched an education partnership leading to an expansion of the Special Olympics Global Youth & Education (GYE) initiative into many new countries starting with Argentina, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Romania and Rwanda.

The success of the Games and the continuing legacy of inclusion and education fostered by the UAE, it’s leadership and Special Olympics programming will forever be appreciated. We look forward to an equally unique and valuable experience at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023!