ESPN’s Coverage of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Kicks Off in One Month

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ESPN’s Coverage of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Kicks Off in One Month

Global coverage of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games will feature more live coverage than ever

Live Competition Coverage on ESPN3, Nightly Programs across ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ABC will bring viewers stories, competition showcase, interviews and more throughout the games

2019 Special Olympics World Games will be ‘Most Unified’ Games ever

In just under one month, ESPN’s global coverage of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi will begin with a live three-hour special capturing the inspiration, pageantry, performances and special guests of the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony from Zayed Sports City Stadium on ESPNEWS at 11 a.m. ET.

The 2019 Special Olympics World Games will take place March 14 – 21, and ESPN’s coverage of these Games will include more live coverage of competition than ever before. ESPN, working with host broadcaster Abu Dhabi Media, will provide sports fans with multiple live feeds each day on ESPN3, delivering more than 25 hours of live coverage across venues and competitions including Swimming, Athletics, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball and more.

Additionally, ESPN will produce an evening studio program airing on ESPN2 and ABC, bringing viewers the incredible stories, athlete profiles and features from around the 2019 World Games, as well as recapping key results from each days’ competitions and more. Following the conclusion of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, ABC will also feature a 2-hour “Best of” special on March 30.

“ESPN, and The Walt Disney Company, are passionate supporters of the Special Olympics movement and the powerful, positive impact it makes for millions,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and general manager, ESPN+. “As Special Olympics celebrates their 50th anniversary, we are very proud to be expanding our coverage to bring fans more live events than ever, showcasing even more of the incredible athletes, competition, sportsmanship and humanity of the Special Olympics World Games”

The 2019 World Games are the largest sports and social inclusion event on the planet — showcasing and advancing a world of full inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in sports, education, health and leadership. It’s the first time Special Olympics’ premier event will be held in the Middle East. Organizers expect to welcome more than 7,500 athletes representing more than 190 nations competing in 24 Olympic-style sports with the support of 3,000 coaches, 20,000 volunteers and as many as 500,000 spectators. This year’s games are also the most “Unified” World Games ever, with nearly 60 percent of the 24 sports featuring Special Olympics Unified Sports competitions. Special Olympic Unified Sports bring together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to compete side by side.

More details about ESPN’s coverage for the 2019 World Games will be announced in coming weeks.

As the global media partner for Special Olympics World Games, ESPN’s coverage will also be carried around the world on ESPN-branded television and streaming networks, including throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America, Brazil, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. ESPN and Special Olympics International also work together to identify additional local television distribution in dozens of countries and territories globally where ESPN does not have television networks.



ESPN is proud of its relationship with Special Olympics, which spans more than 32 years. Over the past five years, ESPN has continued to deepen its relationship with the Special Olympics movement. ESPN served as the Official Broadcaster for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle as well as the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics in Chicago. In 2019, ESPN will serve as the Official Media Partner of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, hosted in Abu Dhabi.

In 2016, ESPN and Special Olympics committed to continuing their alliance to use the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance by reaching two agreements: an extension, and expansion, of ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports® and a new, three-year global programming agreement.

ESPN grants support Special Olympics Unified Sports, as well as other initiatives, and extends and expands a role ESPN has held since 2013. Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Special Olympics Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. With support from ESPN and others, Special Olympics has grown this innovative and inclusive program to more than 1.6 million participants. As part of the continued support of Unified Sports, ESPN will invest in Special Olympics’ goal to build Unified Sports programming and resources in 10,000 schools by 2020 and ensuring 100,000 coaches receive new/renewed sports certifications by 2020.

ESPN previously served as the Official Broadcaster of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria and 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

ESPN employees have been engaged in volunteerism with Special Olympics for over 32 years. Over 500 ESPN and Disney employees volunteered at the USA Games in Seattle.

ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s most pressing needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to


Paul Melvin

Sr. Director, Communications
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