The Special Olympics World Games is a unique opportunity for athletes with intellectual disabilities to showcase their grit, skill, and passion.
Sports serve as an important part of a nation’s cultural heritage and legacy, and athletes are bearers of the rare privilege to represent their countries in international competitions. In 2023, Filipino Special Olympics leaders will once again have their shot at bringing glory to the Philippines in the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
In this article, learn more about the World Games and what it means to the Special Olympics Pilipinas athletes.
What is the Special Olympics World Games?
The 16th Special Olympics World Summer Games are slated for June 16 to 25, 2023. Approximately 7,000 Special Olympics athletes and affiliated partners from some 170 countries are expected to compete in a total of 24 games.
The 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games is the first international multi-sport event to be launched by Special Olympics International after the COVID-19 pandemic, after the organization canceled the 2022 Winter Games in Russia. It follows the 2019 World Summer Games held in Abu Dhabi.
The World Games is a venue to celebrate the grit, sportsmanship, and camaraderie of athletes with intellectual disabilities hailing from different parts of the globe.
As the World Games allow for participation of Unified partners, or persons without intellectual disabilities who want to play alongside our Athlete Leaders, the event becomes a unique opportunity to genuinely encourage social inclusion in ways that no other sports event can. Through the World Games, Special Olympics hopes to inspire hope and usher in a future built on global acceptance, understanding, and unity.
World Games History
The World Games traces its beginnings to 1962. Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a summer camp for kids with intellectual disabilities called Camp Shriver, which served as the precursor to Special Olympics as an international organization.
Since the Special Olympics was formed, Programs across 200 countries, including the Philippines, were founded. Members of national Programs represent their countries to the World Games, which continue to this day, slated every two years, switching off between its summer and winter iterations.
Pinoy Pride in the World Games
Since 1983, the Philippine chapter of Special Olympics has been sending delegates to the World Games in order to showcase our Filipino athletes’ skills in competitive sports. Against all odds, these athletes with intellectual disabilities train tirelessly to realize their greatness.
The Special Olympics team of the Philippines first participated in the World Games in 1991 in Minneapolis, USA, and we have been sending teams in every iteration of the Games since then. The most recent was in 2019 in Abu Dhabi with a delegation of 61.
“The Special Olympics World Games brings out the best in every athlete. It teaches them independence, confidence, and perseverance, which they are able to apply in every day life,” said Kaye Samson, National Executive Director of Special Olympics Pilipinas. “To witness athletes with intellectual disabilities display courage, perseverance, and triumph is absolutely life changing. They inspire the world to be better people. The World Games isn’t really just about sports and competition, it is all about strength, courage, and bravery wrapped with love, kindness, and humanity.”
Support Our Journey to the World Games
The road to a fully inclusive world may not end in the World Games, but it surely is a defining moment for athletes with intellectual disabilities who are able to bring glory to their motherland. As we head to the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin this coming June 2023, the Philippine team needs your help more than ever.
Help Special Olympics athletes make history once more by showing the world what Filipino sportsmanship is truly about. Any amount of donation will allow us to provide ample support to our Athlete Leaders and volunteer coaches. Click here to donate.