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Connecting minds at the Special Olympics

The sporting and humanitarian event provided the ideal opportunity for knowledge sharing, as Expo team members gained crucial insights into bringing the world together in the UAE

As more than 7,000 athletes of determination from across the globe competed for glory at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Expo 2020 Dubai team members were lending their support and learning vital information on how to host a world-class event.

The Special Olympics took place from March 14 to 21 across nine venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with competitors vying for gold in 24 sports including athletics, football, judo, sailing and triathlon.

Expo 2020 transferred 35 people to the Games’ volunteer programme to gain operational experience of a global event, including venue management and problem resolution, while also offering their own valuable advice.

Spanning multiple levels, the ‘green ark’ will use renewable energy and bio-sourced materials to bring to life its ‘Smart and Green Belgium 2050’ theme.

They participated in areas including workforce, protocol, spectator services and venue communications.

Expo 2020’s Rita Penteado, Vice President – Human Resources Workforce and Volunteers, and Michael Joannou, Head of Training – Engagement and Internal Communications, met with key personnel including the Local Organising Committee (LOC) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

They attended as part of the official Observer Programme, which allows staff and officials to share knowledge and expertise from two of the largest events held in the UAE in its 48-year history.

It is closely tied to the legacy plans of the Special Olympics, and staff from the LOC can be redeployed to Expo 2020 to ensure the ongoing promotion and development of talent within the UAE.

Penteado said: “We are creating one of the most inclusive World Expos in history, welcoming people from all walks of life and nationalities with various abilities, talents and perspectives. The World Games shares this philosophy and, as another international event with the support of the nation’s leadership, it is an ideal setting in which the Expo 2020 team can learn.

Numerous other senior operations and events staff from Expo 2020 also visited ADNEC as part of the close collaboration between the two international events, with less than 600 days until the UAE welcomes 190 countries and millions of visitors to the next World Expo.


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