Special Olympics are open: Capital Berlin already has its summer fairy tale


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Special Olympics are open
Capital Berlin already has its summer fairy tale

The starting shot has been fired, the competitions have begun. The successful opening ceremony heralded the Special Olympics for the athletes. With Dirk Nowitzki, the athletes have a huge advocate.

The euphoria of the “unique experience” in the Olympic Stadium lingered on for a long time. Motivated, focused and full of enthusiasm, the athletes at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin started the competitions on Sunday – the cheering of over 50,000 people in the stands, the lighting of the flame and the big fireworks at the end of the colorful and happy opening ceremony on Saturday evening were still present.

Dirk Nowitzki was part of the opening ceremony.

(Foto: picture alliance/dpa)

“It was a unique experience,” said the head of the German delegation, Tom Hauthal. “I’m almost at a loss for words, it was so overwhelming for everyone.” On the way home, which ended after midnight due to delays in the program, there were “many happy faces”. Golfer Clemens Schmidt found the event “simply breathtaking”, soccer player Mireille Vanfuert “awesome and really beautiful” and for swimmer Rodeangello Willmes from Curacao it was “one of the greatest moments of my life.”

At 11:08 p.m., Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier officially opened the world’s largest inclusive sports event. The ceremony, which was also attended by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, was a success and the first highlight of the World Games.

Games shape the image of the federal capital

On Sunday, sport came to the fore for most of the 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and multiple disabilities from 190 countries. “We want to show what TeamSOD is capable of and we will see great games by athletes for athletes in Berlin,” said Hauthal.

Classification competitions were scheduled in 16 of the 26 sports. The starters were divided into performance groups for more justice. In rhythmic gymnastics, the first decisions were also pending.

The World Games also picked up speed outside the sports venues. A sports festival for families took place at the Brandenburg Gate, there were also offers at the Neptune Fountain between the television tower and the Red City Hall, and numerous spectators flocked to the exhibition halls at the radio tower to watch the badminton, boccia and table tennis competitions. The hoped-for “inclusive summer fairy tale” started.

Dirk Nowitzki demands more attention

Hauthal said beforehand that they wanted to “create encounters,” “in Berlin, the city of the Wall, we want to tear down walls in people’s heads.” He should be satisfied with the first impressions. The exchange between athletes, coaches, fans, friends and families is direct.

While the teams at the Olympic Games live isolated in the athletes’ village, at the Special Olympics there is a lot of togetherness. One goal of the World Games is thus tangible: the event should strengthen inclusion and participation and also help to break down barriers afterwards.

Basketball icon Dirk Nowitzki summarized how great the need is. The 2011 NBA champion visited the German basketball players on Saturday and also took part in the opening ceremony as a guest of honour.

“Currently, less than ten percent of all German clubs offer sports for people with physical and mental disabilities,” Nowitzki complained: “That’s a shame. We hope that an event like this here in Germany will attract even more attention.”

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