Sweden has been granted the opportunity to host Special Olympics’ flagship sporting event, the World Winter Games in 2021.

“We are proud that Sweden will host the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2021. For us the Games is an investment in sport and health for people with intellectual disabilities — and an important platform to raise awareness, get people involved, and spread knowledge about Special Olympics,” said Johan Strid, national director, Special Olympics Sweden.

The Special Olympics World Games is one of the largest sporting events on the planet, and inspires, promotes and advances a world of full inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. Taking place every two years and alternating between Summer and Winter Games, the World Games are broadcast globally in more than 150 countries attracting more than 2,500 journalists.

The 2021 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Sweden are expected to host 2,000 athletes and Unified Sports Partners from 105 nations who will participate in nine various sport disciplines. Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that combines an equal number of individuals with intellectual disabilities and individuals without intellectual disabilities. They will be joined by more than 3,000 volunteers as well as 5,000 family members.

A signature aspect of the Swedish bid was its focus on investment in public health for people with intellectual disabilities. Other features of the bid were a drive for more people with and without intellectual disabilities in organized sports; more people with intellectual disabilities  active in sports at school; changing attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities; and an increased knowledge in society about people with intellectual disabilities and the way they are treated.

“Well done Sweden. The 2021 World Winter Games not only represent the best in inclusive sports but also are a compelling ‘snapshot’ of the fully inclusive world we want to create — where discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities has completely ended and has been replaced by freedom, justice and equality for all,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics.

As Sweden celebrates the winning bid, the final countdown to the 2019 Special Olympics World Games has begun. The Games will take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 14–21, 2019.