Five questions about Special Olympics in Kazan

Kazan to host 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games

The organising committee of the Special Olympics said on 29 June that the Winter Games in 2022 would be in Kazan. It will be the first international event under the aegis of the Special Olympics in Russia. The exact dates of the event aren’t known so far.

Olga Slutsker, the president of the Special Olympics in Russia, explained the choice of the city. She said that a call to Rustam Minnikhanov decided everything, everybody “immediately had Kazan in mind”: we needed a city that could decently host the event with participants from a hundred countries of the world.

“The Tatarstan capital has a rich experience of hosting international competitions such as the 2013 Universiade, 2014 World Fencing Championships, 2015 FINA World Championships and 2018 FIFA World Cup. I called President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and told him about the unique chance our country got. He immediately gave me an affirmative response,” Slutsker said.

5 questions about Special Olympics

  1. What is the Special Olympics?
    It is international sports games for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The movement was born on the initiative of President John Kennedy’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver. In July 1968, the first International Special Olympic Games hosted with Kennedy Foundation’s money took place in Chicago’s Soldier Field. In December of that year, there was created Special Olympics charity organisation. Until 1989, the Games were held only in the USA and named International Special Olympic Games. Then other countries began to host the Games, and they began to be called World Special Olympic Games. Russia will host them for the first time.
  2. Why is the point?
    At first, the foundation had two goals — to research ways to fight intellectual disabilities by studying its causes. But now the Special Olympics is held mainly so that society will learn how to consider people with intellectual disabilities correctly, treat them decently. So we can say that the Special Olympics is a celebration of inclusiveness. Olga Slutsker says: “We want to develop our own programme of Special Olympics, we want to make Russia a more loyal place for people with intellectual disabilities”.
  3. How are medals awarded at Special Olympics?
    There are no medals. Special Olympics are held only for adaptation of people with intellectual disabilities. The competition’s goal isn’t to find the strongest and register sports records. The participants are divided into divisions depending on their athletic preparation. The difference in the result between athletes of one division mustn’t be more than 10% (15% is allowed if the number of athletes is big). No more than eight participants compete in every division. The podium has eight places — in other words, nobody is defeated in general.
  4. Will there be a rating of countries?
    No. The Special Olympics doesn’t consider the athletes’ nationality and doesn’t have “team results” between the countries.
  5. What disciplines will the competitors of the Special Winter Games compete in?
    During the Special Olympic Games 2022, the competition will have seven sports: alpine skiing, snowboard, floorball, ski races, figure skating, short track and snowshoe running.

Rustam Minnikhanov: “Equal opportunities for everybody are Tatarstan’s key principles”

Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov commented on the victory of Kazan’s bid for hosting the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

“Sports doesn’t have limits, and hosting the Special Olympics World Winter Games is clear evidence of it. Equal opportunities for everybody are a noble mission that organisers carry reflects Tatarstan’s key principles.

The republic always organises events we were entrusted with with great responsibility, and I want to assure you that the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games won’t be an exception,” Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov told the press service of the organising committee.

“Kazan is a great sports capital”

Timothy Shriver, the president of the Special World Games, told Izvestiya newspaper on 29 June that it was an easy decision for the organising committee as Kazan was a great sports capital.

As for the quality of Kazan’s application to host the Games, he said that it was amazing. The organisers had a lot of strong ideas, a very well-thought-out and detailed sports component and additional educational programme. They were also impressed that Kazan wasn’t afraid of the deadline — little time is left to the beginning of the 2022 Games.

The city has enough venues to host the competitions, nothing won’t have to be built, while Sviyaga ski resort will become the main facility. Over 2,000 Olympians from more than a hundred countries of the world, 3,000 volunteers and 4,000 honourable guests will come to the Games.

By Lyudmila Gubayeva