Special Olympics Pre-Games 2016’s Successful Completion!

The Special Olympics Pre-Games 2016 concluded with two atmospheric Closing Ceremonies in Graz and Schladming. Participants from 21 Nations have departed, this past Friday, from the venues in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau, most of them will return next year. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the athletes (which was enormous) and the general feedback on the Pre-Games was consistently positive. For four days, more than 1,000 athletes in nine disciplines competed for medals. Not only what impressive achievements in the sports events by the athletes but above all, the incredible emotions evoked in the process.

The Pre-Games are history and so the full focus is now concentrated on the great Special Olympics World Winter Games in March 2017. The past week has brought exactly what was wanted from the perspective of the Organizing Committee: to identify areas that worked very well and also to explore areas that would benefit from improvement. "Our team has done a great job, we extracted many positive points from the Pre-Games," Marc Angelini and Markus Pichler, Managing Director of "Austria 2017" who were very happy. The execution of sports competitions in Schladming and Ramsau went smoothly thanks to the experience of the sport clubs in Graz. More than 1,000 students from all over Styria cheered on the athletes on the grounds of the competitions and thus ensured a special atmosphere. The two-hour Opening Ceremony, where many important personalities from the world of sports and music stars participated, will be memorable for a long time to come.

Yet over the next 14 months, everyone will work hard and intensively in the preparatory work, because the magnitude of the Special Olympics World Winter Games is greater than that of the Pre-Games: 3,000 athletes and 1,000 coaches from more than 100 Nations will come to Styria. 3,000 volunteers will support the games (more than 1,000 are already registered). 1,000 media representatives from around the world are also expected. The Host Town Program prior to the games will be extended to all over Austria, as the lighting of the Olympic Torch takes place over several days across the country, as well as the Healthy Athletes Program. In short: everything will be much bigger, more impressive and thus evoking emotions on a larger scale too. "It is now time to reach out to the public at large and really communicate what huge sporting event we will have in March 2017 in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau. We hope that the whole country will get on board", so Angelini and Pichler.

When it comes to sports, there are only slight adaptations. The competition MATP (Motor Activity Training Program) does not appear in the program of the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 but still could be held as a kind of demonstration competition. Also floor hockey comes with a more spectacular team. The sports facilities in Schladming/Rohrmoos (Alpine skiing and snowboarding) and Ramsau (Nordic skiing and snowshoeing) remain the same, in Graz which are competitions in the Eishalle Liebenau (figure skating and speed skating) and the City Hall (floor hockey, floorball, stock sports) are conducted. The Opening Ceremony is on March 18th, 2017 in the World Cup Stadium planai in Schladming on the stage, the Closing Ceremony in the future mercury-arena in Graz (March 24th).


Statements about the Pre-Games 2016:


Mary Davis (Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia):

"The Pre-Games were a great success and a successful dress rehearsal for the upcoming Special Olympics World Winter Games. The slogan of the games next year "Heartbeat for the World, is ideally suited to Austria. Everywhere, I have felt the warmth of the Austrian people this week - more than 600 volunteers who have supported the games, many students and fans, who have cheered on the athletes on the ground and by the sponsors and partners of the games. Styria is a perfect region to host the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2017. The sports facilities are unique, the mood is welcoming - we can’t imagine a better place for 3,000 participants from more than 100 Nations. Thank you Austria!"


Hermann Kröll (President Special Olympics Österreich and Austria 2017):

"The Pre-Games fulfilled the high expectations and were a very informative dress rehearsal for the Special Olympics World Winter Games (14-25 March 2017). They were particularly pleasing to sponsors and supporters, but also the presence of high-level sports personalities and especially our international athletes who brought such enthusiasm, exceptional skills and charisma, forged many unforgettable moments and long-lasting impressions. The Opening Ceremony, with more than 6,000 participants and spectators, the living Styrian hospitality, as well as the high presence of many important personalities of the public life, all contributing factors to the Pre-Games success. A special highlight was the high quality of sports by running clubs in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau. Through these successful rehearsal we were able to identify valuable observations for the Organization."

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