The countdown has begun for the Special Olympics – World Winter Games , a sporting event for people with Intellectual disabilities, is set to kick off in Kazan, Russia in a year.
Over 2,000 athletes from over 100 countries will compete in the Special Olympic games.
Kazan jumped in to host the games at the last minute after Sweden pulled out due to some financial constraints – a controversial decision given that Russia is currently serving a ban from all major sporting events.
Russia’s ban was reduced to two years in December from four by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after its anti-doping agency was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.
”As a country, we are ready for a bigger message on inclusion and as Special Olympics International is not a signatory of the World Anti Doping Code, therefore we were in a good place to come to Russia with the World Games,” Natalia Vodianova, an international Russian-born model and member of Special Olympics International Board of Director said in a interview.
“She also said that her younger sister Oksana was born with an intellectual disability. There is a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of miscommunication about the abilities of people with special needs.
Therefore, I hope that the Special Olympics World Games will bring more clarity and break some stigmas around possibilities and opportunities for people with special needs like my sister,” she stated.
Having hosted the World Aquatics Championships in 2015 and the FIFA World Cup three years afterwards, Kazan is not new to big events.
The Special Olympics which was Founded in 1968, is a global movement aimed at ending discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.
It offers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year.
Special Olympics Russia, which has been active for more than two decades, has 128 thousand athletes taking part in sports and competitions across the country.
This represents just 4% of the estimated three million people with intellectual disabilities in Russia, and Vodianova is hoping the Special Olympics winter games coming to the country will mean that more people can benefit from the initiative in the nearest future.