After six days of competition at the National Games, athletes and officials as well as coaches, volunteers and visitors look back on a great atmosphere with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of openly shown joy.
But also to what everyone hoped for: The National Games in Berlin have shown that sport and activity can pave the way for people with intellectual and multiple disabilities to lead a life of equality and to be better seen by the public.
It has actually succeeded in improving the visibility of the athletes. A completely different perception of Special Olympics has emerged in Germany.
Thus, the National Games were received as an atmospheric event, but at the same time as a message that people with intellectual disabilities simply play sports like everyone else.
Inclusion was not only talked about, it was lived every day. At the competition venues, where the athletes gave their best and in Unified teams, where people with and without intellectual disabilities competed together on an equal level.
And also in the organization of the Games, in which numerous athletes were involved with their expert knowledge and who became great contributors.
This is a huge success of this exciting week, which was also recognized by the ambassador of Special Olympics International (SOI), Ian Harper. Berlin is living inclusion, said Harper, who added that he is already looking forward to next year's World Games. "I'm sure the atmosphere will be electric. The whole world is coming to Berlin.".
If I can make it work with my job and family next year, I'd love to be there again. Because all in all it was a great experience. Everyone should take part here!
More than 7,000 athletes in 26 sports will compete at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 from 17 to 25 June. All international delegations are expected to arrive in Germany four days in advance. 216 Host Towns will each receive a delegation and show the athletes and their companions their city and its possibilities.
In this way, the idea of Special Olympics will not only reach Berlin, but the entire country. Inclusion can become more natural.
One area where there is still room for improvement is organized sport and its clubs. The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) is therefore also striving for even closer cooperation and even more inclusive offerings in sports clubs, and together with its member organizations is once again stepping up its efforts to implement inclusion, from the training of exercise instructors to the barrier-free conversion of sports facilities and much more.
After all, currently only around eight percent of people with intellectual and multiple disabilities participate in sports. The declared goal is to at least double this figure in the foreseeable future.
The National Games and, above all, the World Games 2023 can give the Special Olympics movement in Germany a huge boost, establish the topic more firmly in the long term and hopefully ensure that more inclusive sports opportunities are created and made known in the long term. And that attitudes in the population are changed and inclusion and participation are lived more in every day life.
You also want to be part of the movement and support us as a volunteer at the World Games next year?