Altogether Berlin welcomed 7,000 Special Olympics athletes and unified partners from approximately 190 countries, who competed in 26 different sports, including judo. The athletes were supported by more than 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers.
Mr Teodor Pop, IJF Project Manager, represented the IJF President, Mr Marius Vizer, for the judo activities, "It was the first time for me to attend the Special Olympics World Games and to meet the community. It was very interesting, very emotional and moving.
The idea isn’t to compete as we are used to at any other competition. It's not about being a champion, as we usually understand it, but to become a champion in life and to participate in a Games event. At the end, everyone gets a reward, therefore the judo rules are adapted so it works for people with different needs and challenges. During the judo event itself, the goal is to make sure everyone can win something.
The format of the competition is short and there are no penalties, for instance, and if there is something that is not correct, the referees are there to explain and find a solution.
The organisation was really good. The Special Olympics World Games takes place every two years. The German authorities and organising committee did a fantastic job and in the future there will be more and more co-ordination with the IJF.
I had a really positive impression. As I said, it was a very moving event. It's great to see so much support from everyone, to see happy people. We had visits from many personalities to the judo event, for example, Katarina Witt, the ice skating legend, came to give some awards. It's great to see how people are involved."
About the Special Olympics
The Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement. All over the world, the movement is changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. The highlight is the Special Olympics World Games every two years. The Special Olympics do more around the world as they support people with intellectual disabilities through health, education and skills development programmes.
The movement began in 1968 when 1,000 athletes from the USA and Canada marched into the stadium with flags and banners at the first Special Olympics World Games. The Special Olympics was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver who spent her life campaigning for more rights and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities.
Today, the Special Olympics is the world's largest sports movement for people with intellectual disabilities, with more than 5 million athletes from 174 countries, and is officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).