UAE Special Olympics celebrated at British parliament

Calls for Britain to bid to host Special Olympics after UAE triumphs

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: MP Sarah Newton, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, met with athletes from the Special Olympics GB team to wish them good luck as they depart to Abu Dhabi to compete in the World Games. Joining the send-off was Michelle Carney, CEO of SOGB and members of the UAE Embassy H.E. Rawdha Al Otaiba, Deputy Head of UAE Mission, Mr Marwan Al Naqbi, Head of UAE Economic Affairs and Mr Ahmed Al Abdooli, Head of UAE Political Affairs on March 06, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi)
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The success of the Great Britain team at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi last month has inspired calls for London to bid to host the competition.

At a celebration in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, politicians, diplomats and organisers met with competitors and praised role of the third member of the Olympic family in granting new opportunities for all who participate in the movement.

David Jones, the Conservative MP and chair of the All- Party Parliamentary Group for the UAE, told gold medalists such as swimmer Philip Nichols and tennis player Lilly Mills that their success was a triumph for the country.

"We're very proud of everything you did," he said.

Suleiman Al Mazroui, the UAE ambassador to Britain, said the country had been very proud to host the tournament, which was a highlight of the Year of Tolerance.

"The UAE chooses to call [competitors] people of determination who focus on opportunities not the things that hold them back," he said. "We are expanding opportunities for people of determination."

The Summer Games was one of the largest sporting events to held globally in 2019.

More than 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 190 nations will compete in 24 events held in nine venues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The Special Olympics Great Britain team came home with 169 medals, 63 of them gold for the 128-strong squad.

Representatives of the Special Olympics in Britain praised the level of organisation and funding that had allowed such a large delegation to compete in the first of its kind competition in the UAE between March 14 and 21.

"The level of support we've had from the UAE has been incredible," said Murton Mann, the chairman of Special Olympics GB. "I would just say we get no direct government funding here in Britain, which is pretty incredible for the third member of the Olympic family."

Mr Mann called for a bid backed for the authorities to host the summer games in Britain in the future. Britain hosted the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Lawrie McMemeny, a former Northern Ireland soccer manager who is honorary president of the Special Olympics GB, said he hoped the country's current pre-occupation with Brexit would not scupper hopes for more official support.

"It would be something fantastic to have the Special Olympics here and the government should start remembering that and forget about things like Brexit," he said. "When the government starts behaving properly we could have a wonderful experience.