By Hishan Welmilla
The United States of America will be ready to welcome nearly 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries to the Special Olympics Games (LA 2015) which will get underway from 25 July to 2 August in Los Angeles.
The First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama will attend the Opening Ceremony on 25 July celebrating the commencement of the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event this year. The First Lady of the United States serves as an honorary co-chair of the World Games with President Barack Obama.
Performers at the LA 2015 Opening Ceremony include Stevie Wonder, Avril Lavigne, Nicole Scherzinger, O.A.R., Cody Simpson (featuring Special Olympics athlete Breanna Bogucki and YouTube sensation Madison Tevlin), J Balvin & Becky G, and Reach Up LA theme song creator Siedah Garrett. With appearances by Jimmy Kimmel, Eva Longoria, Michael Phelps, Yao Ming, Greg Louganis, Stephanie McMahon and Lauren Potter among others, the show is set to be one of the most inspirational events Los Angeles has ever hosted.
Directed by Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen and produced by FiveCurrents, the show will be brought to a worldwide audience by ESPN and local broadcast partners.
“The First Lady’s attendance complemented by the diversity of these talented performers will make the Opening Ceremony an extraordinary moment for Los Angeles and for the Special Olympics movement,” said LA 2015 President and CEO Patrick McClenahan. “We look forward to sharing the excitement of the Opening Ceremony with millions of people worldwide.”
More than 500,000 spectators are anticipated to attend the World Games and competition events are free and open to the public.
“The Special Olympics movement is thrilled and honoured to have First Lady Michelle Obama join us on the momentous occasion of our 2015 Special Olympics World Games,” shared Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver. “Her vision of wellness, fitness and inclusion of all in sport is at the heart of Special Olympics and will be seen in the spirit of the athletes who travel from over 170 countries to come together for fierce and exciting competition. Her lessons conveying the critical importance of play and action are lessons that we hope all schools across the nation will embrace by welcoming Special Olympics Unified Sports programs to their gyms, to their playing fields, and to the hearts of all their students.”
Sri Lanka will field seven athletes in two sports – Badminton and Athletics at the games and the contingent will also include three coaches as well as three officials The 2015 Special Olympics World Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games, with the unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill that are hallmarks of all Special Olympics events, will feature 27 Olympic-style sports in venues throughout the Los Angeles region.
The Opening Ceremony, to be held 25 July, in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. On 30 April, LA 2015 and ESPN announced a global programming deal that will see ESPN bring coverage of World Games to millions of fans around the world. Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown serving as Honorary Hosts.
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. They empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.5 million athletes in 177 countries. With the support of more than 1.3 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 81,000 games and competitions throughout the year