On the 12th of June, the 2023 Special Olympics South Africa National Team will depart for Berlin, Germany, to compete at the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games. They will compete against 7,000 athletes from 190 countries in what is being called the world’s largest inclusive sporting event.
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Because of the high cost for each athlete to attend the World Games, Special Olympics South Africa will once again be relying on corporations and the public at large to support “Adopt an Athlete” or to donate to a new campaign called “Road to Berlin”, which aims to assist in getting the 2023 Special Olympics South Africa National Team to Berlin, Germany.
In what is being hailed as the world’s largest inclusive sporting event, the team will compete against 7,000 athletes from 190 countries.
They will try to replicate the success of the 2019 South Africa National Team, which won 35 gold medals, 15 silver medals, and 12 bronze medals at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in the United Arab Emirates.
Dr Mathews Phosa, Chairperson of Special Olympics South Africa, noted, “The athletes of Special Olympics South Africa are the biggest medal winners in this country, and yet they always receive the least support. It is time that we change that narrative, not just in terms of the funding but also in terms of the recognition they receive after successfully representing our country.”
“Their achievements are not less because of their disability; they are, in fact, far, far greater! Special Olympics South Africa will once again be relying on corporations and the public at large to “Adopt an Athlete,” he added.
“The costs for each athlete to attend the World Games come to about R 40,000 per athlete,” said Ms Ancilla Smith, the CEO of Special Olympics South Africa; “the majority of our athletes come from impoverished circumstances, and we make sure that we are able to provide everything that they need to be able to represent our country with pride. We provide everything from toiletries and underwear to their official playing kit and equipment.”
The “Adopt an Athlete” campaign has been successful in raising funds for the previous three World Games, and the organisation is hoping for the same this year.
Smith continued, “The athletes of Special Olympics South Africa continue to prove that, when given the opportunity, they can and will succeed. They cannot, however, do it without support. In previous years, our National Team has relied on the public, corporations, and the National Lotteries Commission to make their dreams of representing our country a reality. This year again, we will be calling upon all sectors of our society to help us get these athletes up onto the winner’s podiums in Berlin, where they belong”.
A Back a Buddy page has been created for individuals or companies that are unable to cover the full cost of an athlete’s participation but would still like to contribute to the Special Olympics. This page can be accessed here.
The Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 will be broadcast to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, showcasing athletic performance and highlighting stereotype-defying stories that will change minds and open hearts through transformational inclusion.
The Special Olympics World Games serve as a catalyst for inclusion, leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities around the world.
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