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2014 Special Olympics European Games

Special Olympics*, the world’s largest sports organization for athletes with intellectual disabilities announced today that Antwerp, Belgium will be the host of the 2014 Special Olympics European Games.

Games of the Heart to Unite Europe in Celebration of Skills and Abilities of Athletes with intellectual disabilities

Speaking at a press event near Brussels, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy pledged his support for the success of the 2014 Games: “The European Council congratulates Belgium on becoming the host of the 2014 Special Olympics European Games. As well as being a great sporting event, these Games will bring public attention across Europe to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers that can exclude them from the mainstream of the community”.

Taking place from September 13th – 20th 2014, the Games will attract more than 2,000 athletes from 58 nations to compete in eleven Olympic-type sports over 10 days of competitions. More than 40,000 spectators are expected to visit the competitions taking place in the same world-class venues which hosted the 2006 Belgium National Games, while 4,000 volunteers will be recruited to support all activities.

With free health screenings for athletes, a Youth Summit, Family Symposium and an art exhibition, the 2014 Games will also provide a venue for global discussions and action on the impact Special Olympics can have on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. More than 200 million people worldwide have an intellectual disability, making it the largest disability group worldwide. Intellectual disability crosses racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic lines and can occur in any family.

According to Mary Davis, Regional President of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia: “’Games of the Heart’ is how we describe the 2014 Games as we invite communities to join our world of welcome – a world of inclusion and mutual respect, without bias or prejudice. I can’t think of a better place than Antwerp, Belgium to host these Games where Europe will unite through Sports.”

Along with the President of the European Council, Mr Herman Van Rompuy and Mary Davis, Regional President of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, those who also spoke at today’s launch event included: Mr Guido Kestens, Chairman of the 2014 Special Olympics European Games Organising Committee, Mr Dirk Verhofstadt, CEO of 2014 Special Olympics European Games Organizing Committee and athlete Ms Evy Ploegaerts, who helped design the logo for the 2014 Games, gave a special presentation on her idea behind the logo design.

* Special Olympics European Games take place every two years and would not be possible without the generous support from our corporate partners. Antwerp 2014 follows in the footsteps of Warsaw, Poland hosts of the 2010 Special Olympics European Games and Athens, Greece which hosted the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games. The Games will be the largest multi-sport event for people with intellectual disabilities in 2014.


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