Heart Beat for the World

Special Olympics in Austria
03/15/2017 12:39

The world’s largest sports and humanitarian event in 2017 is the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz, Schladming, Ramsau, Styria, Austria, running from 14th to 25th March, 2017.


The Special Olympics organizes thousands of competitions around the world every year. Athletes from 169 countries train and compete in more than 30 sports. Every two years, there is a World Games competition that demonstrates the best the movement has to offer. For many athletes, attending a World Games is the dream of a lifetime.


For almost 2,700 Special Olympics athletes, that dream is coming true during the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. The athletes have trained in their 107 home countries. Coaches have guided their practices. Family and friends have cheered for them. This month, they meet in Graz, Ramsau and Schladming in Austria under the motto Heart beat for the world. About 1,000 coaches are joining them. Following the Special Olympics Athletes’ Oath Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt! Athletes will compete in skiing, skating, snowboard, snowshoe, and in other sports.


These World Games mark a return: In 1993, Austria hosted the very first Special Olympics World Winter Games outside the USA. A lot has changed since then. This time, an even larger worldwide audience has the chance to watch the Games.


The nationally famous inclusive dance group – the “Ich bin O.K. Dance Company” from Vienna will perform in the Opening Ceremony on 18th March – together with dancers of the Viennese State Opera Ballet. Other highlights of the evening will be well-known artists like Helene Fischer, Grammy winner Jason Mraz, Opera-and musical star Anna Maria Kaufmann, Austrian pop star Rose May Alaba, and many more.


Special events and activities are organized for honoured guests, e.g.:

  • Unified Talk Series - this new series of inspiring and informative conversations features discussions with athletes, business, global and thought leaders exploring important issues concerning the disability community worldwide;
  • A reception in honour of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver;
  • Special Olympics dance challenge - Special Olympics athletes have the opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary dancing skills in a competitive Dance Challenge. Athletes and Unified Partners will demonstrate their talents in three categories: Solo Competition; Unified Pairs Dancing; and Dance Crews. Produced by Austrian Ballroom Champion Pierre Gider, the Special Olympics Dance Challenge will be judged by internationally renowned officials and celebrities.