|13 November 2007|
Story and photo by Miroslaw Krogulec, Senior Manager, Organizational Development and Sports, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia
From 1-11 October 2007, over 7,300 Special Olympics athletes with intellectual disabilities and 3,000 coaches from 165 countries took part in 26 official and demonstration sports at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games that were held in Shanghai, China. All athletes displayed their skills, determination and good sportsmanship in the largest sporting event this year for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The World Games were not only a world-class sports event, but a humanitarian experience where athletes and fans come together for 11 days in an atmosphere of inclusion and respect for all.
Basketball was the one of most popular sports with over 670 Special Olympics players, including 321 players from 24 European countries. Players of all ability levels were represented. Tournaments were held for male, female and Unified teams, in which players with and without disabilities compete on the same team. Tournaments were held at the Shanghai Jiaotong University Sports Arena and Luwan Gymnasium.
|Special Olympics players from Poland and China shake hands at the start of a game|
Prior to the start of all competitions, a spectacular Opening Ceremonies was watched by 80,000 spectators at the Shanghai Stadium and 500 million television viewers throughout the country. China’s President Hu Jintao opened the Games. Among the sports celebrities who attended Opening Ceremonies was Yao Ming, Special Olympics Global Ambassador and National Basketball Association All-Star Center. The Houston Rockets center missed the start of the basketball season to attend the opening. “It's worth it. Nothing is more important than doing things for Special Olympics,” he said.