This summer, Special Olympics Germany gave us all a taste of what is to come at World Games Berlin 2023. Held in June, the Special Olympics Germany National Games 2022 were the second international Special Olympics event in the Europe Eurasia region since the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic. With 13 international delegations traveling to Berlin, the National Games were an opportunity to compete, socialize and prepare for next summer’s World Games.
From 19 to 24 June 2022, 4,000 athletes and Unified partners from across Germany and beyond competed in 20 different sports disciplines varying from the most established ones like athletics, football, and basketball to those still in development such as judo and triathlon. The sheer enthusiasm and determination of the athletes filled the numerous venues across the city and brought a breath of fresh air and inclusion throughout Berlin during sporting events as well as cultural ones.
An array of cultural activities were offered alongside the sports competitions to German and international athletes to help them understand and enjoy the local customs and traditions. Most appreciated of all was, without a doubt, the Athlete Disco Night where athletes danced the night away at one of the most emblematic spots in the city, the Brandenburg Gate!
Additionally, almost 3,000 free health screenings were offered to all athletes and Unified partners who showed up at the Healthy Athletes stands. From eyecare to hearing, and from mental health to physical therapy and dentistry, the Games took great care of all Special Olympics athletes present.
The National Games weren’t the only international event in Berlin during that week! At the main venue, the Berlin Olympiapark, the Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Regional Youth Leadership Summit took place and welcomed athlete leaders from Germany, Albania, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Montenegro, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tȕrkiye, and Ukraine. The Summit offered our athlete leaders a chance to encounter other cultures and develop projects to further the Special Olympics movement in their respective countries. The group also shared nice moments together and formed bonds beyond borders that will surely last in the future.
It was most important for Yulia and Ihor to be present at the Youth Leadership Summit in Berlin. The Athlete Mentor and Leader from Special Olympics Ukraine faced a dangerous journey to be at the Summit. “My father protects us in East Ukraine, and I know it’s hard for him. I’m now here [in Berlin], and I’m sure I’ll be safe for a few days,” commented Ihor, Athlete Leader. “When I get back, I will definitely call to tell him what a great time we had. I liked writing projects and budgeting and I want to start a project in the Ukraine.”
“It was important for Ukraine to attend this event so that everyone could learn that also young people with intellectual disabilities have a chance for the future,” added mentor Yulia Kornylo.
The Special Olympics Germany National Games 2022 ended in a resounding success in terms of athlete enjoyment, quality of the sports competitions, cultural and health opportunities, and in the media sphere. If they are of any indication, it is safe to say we are expecting great things from the World Games Berlin 2023.
“The 2022 Special Olympics Germany National Games served as a strong example of the resilience of the athletes of Special Olympics and the movement they proudly represent.”
David Evangelista, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia