More recognition for Kazan with Special Olympics World Winter Games
Kazan in Russia has today been named as the host of the next Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2022.
The event for athletes with intellectual disabilities is set to involve 2,000 athletes from some 108 countries.
The next edition of the quadrennial games was due to take place in Are and Ostersund in Sweden in 2021 but they gave up the hosting rights last December after the country's government withdrew funding, and, as well as being relocated, the games have been postponed by 12 months.
Special Olympics said that by staging the winter sports showpiece in Russia, it will be looking to capitalise on its activity in the country where 128,000 athletes currently take part in events. It aims to grow athlete numbers to 200,000 and expand into all 85 regions of the country by 2025.
The decision by the organisation's international board of directors to take a global event to Russia for the first time has been attributed to Kazan's reputation for hosting large international sporting events, support from the local, state and national governments, and a strong legacy vision.
Kazan, the capital of the republic of Tatarstan, already has experience of prominent multinational events, notably the 2013 Summer Universiade, the university games, the 2015 FINA World Championships and six matches at the 2018 Fifa World Cup hosted by Russia.
There are also facilities for all seven World Winter Games sports - alpine skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, floorball, cross-country skiing, figure skating and short track speedskating.
Mary Davis, the chief executive of Special Olympics, said: “Hosting the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022 adds Kazan to an elite group of international cities leading the inclusion charge for people with intellectual disabilities. The global Special Olympics movement has confidence in Kazan’s ability to host a world-class games that deliver a lasting impact. Congratulations to Kazan!”
Olga Slutsker, the president of Special Olympics Russia, added: “We are thrilled to host the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022. Hosting this prestigious and deeply significant event gives us the opportunity to show Russia and the world that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of competing at the highest levels of sport. It will demonstrate the power of our movement not only as a sports organisation but also as a leader in the drive towards a truly inclusive world.”
The Special Olympics World Winter Games will take place on 22 to 28 January, 2022, with international television coverage from ESPN, which holds rights to the organisation's events until 2027.
The next Special Olympics World Games are due to be held in Berlin in Germany in 2023.