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Special Olympics to break down barriers

  • Special Olympics World Games

    Athlete Daniela Huhn (r) and her Unified partner Andrea Eichner (l) stand next to the net before badminton training for the Special Olympics World Games.

  • Sven Albrecht

    Sven Albrecht, managing director of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023

The Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 are intended to sustainably ensure a better coexistence between people with and without intellectual disabilities.

"For the most part, there are few opportunities for contact. That's why there are still many barriers, including some barriers in the mind," says Sven Albrecht, managing director of the World Games to the German press agency DPA. The largest multisport event in Germany after the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich is therefore intended to create as many encounters as possible from June 17 to 25.

16 competitions for people with and without disabilities

Albrecht points to the inclusive sports offer Unified Sports, where people with and without intellectual disabilities play sports together. At the World Games, Unified competitions will be held in 16 of the 26 disciplines. A total of 871 Unified partners will compete in Berlin.

Fostering encounters and breaking down barriers

Albrecht hopes that the pull of the games will encourage more sports clubs and associations to include Unified offerings in their programs. Unified sports are also a good alternative for children without disabilities who can't keep up in regular sports: this way they "get the feeling that sports are also doing something good for their personal development," says Albrecht. On the other hand, there are also some impaired athletes who have dropped out of the Special Olympics program. "We have examples of table tennis teams that are now competing in the district league," Albrecht says, "and they're winning. That also does something to a player without a disability." It can "open doors," encourage encounters and break down barriers.

Sports competitions throughout the city

For the Special Olympics World Games 2023, competitions are planned all throughout Berlin in 26 sports ranging from basketball, football and swimming to badminton, judo and canoeing. Venues include the Olympia Park, Messe Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni and the Wannsee lidos. The opening ceremony will be held at the Olympic Stadium. Basketball will be played at the Neptune Fountain on Alexanderplatz. This location will also be the focal point for the Special Olympics Festival, which will feature an extensive cultural program.

Author: dpa/
Further information: Special Olympics in Berlin
Publication date: 14 June 2023
Last updated: 14 June 2023

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