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UAE cheers at opening ceremony of Special Olympics

7,500 athletes from 190 nations take centre stage and showcase their sporting skills from March 14 to 21. The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 started off in spectacular style by making a bold statement of inclusiveness and acceptance at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in the Capital. There were 7,500 athletes from 200…

UAE cheers at opening ceremony of Special Olympics

7,500 athletes from 190 nations take centre stage and showcase their sporting skills from March 14 to 21.

The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 started off in spectacular style by making a bold statement of inclusiveness and acceptance at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in the Capital. There were 7,500 athletes from 200 countries, a mini world, inside the stadium, making this the most games in the 50-year history of the Special Olympics.

The games was opened by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces on Thursday.

“We are proud to be here with the Special Olympics athletes. We send a message to the world that anything is possible with determination,” Sheikh Mohamed said in his inaugural speech as the ‘Flame of Hope’ was lit.

Minister of State for Youth Affairs Shamma Al Mazrui said the games in the Capital was realisation of the vision of the UAE leadership.

“It’s magic to see something so close to our hearts here. Through Special Olympics, we are making the invisible visible. The elements of inclusion are all around us. Let’s now light the world with the UAE chapter of Special Olympics,” she said.

Haseeb Abbasi, a special athlete, said it was time for the world to stand united with the people of determination. “You are sending a message of hope and victory to everybody in the world. You are the true champions.”

Even before these inspirational words and start of the event, there was an air of optimism and determination as the athletes made their way to the stadium through the lanes of Abu Dhabi. And once they gathered outside the stadium, it was a blend of diverse nationalities but with a common aim – to tell the world that people of determination had the right to excel in every aspect of their lives. ‘We are the determined, we can do anything’ – was the rallying call by them.

The pre-show started with unified choir ‘Woven World’ – a performance celebrating the strengths of a world full of diversity but yet together for a noble cause.

Now United, a global pop group featuring 14 singing and dancing artists from 14 countries, performed during the opening ceremonies. The group, whose members ranged between 16-20 years old, put on a spectacular performance with their hit singles including Summer in the City, All Day, How We Do it and Beautiful Life.

Later, the athletes’ marched into the stadium to rousing ovation by around 40,000 fans in the stands. All the athletes upheld the words of their oath: ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt’. And once the athletes were seated, they too joined the celebrations. Once all teams were settled, it was an ‘I-was-there’ moment as the UAE united the world inside a stadium.

This was followed by unified speech which was a message for unity by the members of the local organising committee. The sporting icons of the country then raised the Olympic Flag. And at the end, the ‘Flame of Hope’ arrived from a raise platform and was lit after the torch parade thereby starting the movement for an unified world.

From Friday till it will last on March 21, it will be a celebration of sportsmanship, grit and determination to create an all-inclusive world.

ashwani@khaleejtimes.com
A show of solidarity

It was a show of solidarity for the determined at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games by the Abu Dhabi residents who turned out in huge numbers to teach their children a thing or two about inclusion.
“It is important that children from a young age understand the concept of inclusion. I wanted my kids to witness how these athletes have overcome their mental and physical disabilities,” said British expat Victoria Fell.

All you need to know about Special Olympics
The mother of three said she understands how important it is for a society to accept people with special abilities because she had an aunt with Down Syndrome.
“My aunt had to be sent away from the family when she was around three, and institutionalized. Back in that time, there was no support and no choice to care for them.”

Inclusivity to be the star at Special Olympics
“But I am very glad to see that the UAE society is open to inclusion and treat them as part of the same community.”
Indian parents Anisha Batra Chacko and Sunij Chacko were also at the packed Zayed Sports City Stadium with their five-year old son, Vihaan. Their daughter Arianna is singing in the choir. “It is never too early to learn about inclusion,” said Chacko.

Flame lit for Special Olympics in UAE
“We are so happy that our daughter could be a part of something so big and so meaningful that teaches them to value humanity. It also encourages them to be friends with others who are different from her yet much stronger than them in many ways,” she said.
For many parents, watching the Special Olympics with their children is also an opportunity to teach them the importance of “not giving up.”
“It is a huge encouragement for children and I want my son to look at these athletes and learn that if they can go out and do it, there is no excuse why he cannot. Giving up is not an option,” said Leah Watson, a Dubai resident.

Over 20,000 to volunteer for Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi
Sajjan Varkey, a teacher from the Abu Dhabi Indian School, who was at the stadium with a group of his students, could not agree more.
“We are here to show solidarity to the determined. It is also a strong message and life lesson for our children that life will throw up challenges but the real winner does not give up.”
Seventh grader Ashnel Saldanha said he and his friends were amazed to see the stunning talent and sheer grit shown by the athletes. “It tells us that nothing is impossible.”
“We are all here to support them and also show that we believe in inclusion,” he added.

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Heatwave kills 45 in India in 24 hours, over 100 hospitalised

The government has issued a heat alert in the wake of the rising death toll. Severe heatwave left at least 45 people dead and more than 100 hospitalised in the past 24 hours in Bihar, officials said on Sunday. Deaths due to the heatwave were reported from Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada districts. Gaya and Patna…

Heatwave kills 45 in India in 24 hours, over 100 hospitalised

The government has issued a heat alert in the wake of the rising death toll.

Severe heatwave left at least 45 people dead and more than 100 hospitalised in the past 24 hours in Bihar, officials said on Sunday. Deaths due to the heatwave were reported from Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada districts.

Gaya and Patna recorded temperature above 45 degree Celsius on Saturday.
Aurangabad civil surgeon Dr Surendra Prasad Singh confirmed 27 deaths due to the heatwave till late Saturday night. “Dozens are being treated for it in different hospitals,” he said.
Gaya District Magistrate Abhishek Singh confirmed 14 deaths, while another district official confirmed five deaths in Nawada. In both the districts, more than 60 people are being treated for heatwave.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the deaths and announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the victims.
The government has also issued a heat alert in the wake of the rising death toll and advised people to take care while going outside during day time.

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Suman Rao from Rajasthan wins Miss India 2019

Shivani Jadhav clinched Femina Miss Grand India title and Shreya Shanker won Miss India United Continents title. Suman Rao from Rajasthan has won the Femina Miss India World 2019 beauty pageant during a star-studded ceremony at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium in Mumbai. Shivani Jadhav from Chhattisgarh clinched Femina Miss Grand India 2019 title and…

Suman Rao from Rajasthan wins Miss India 2019

Shivani Jadhav clinched Femina Miss Grand India title and Shreya Shanker won Miss India United Continents title.

Suman Rao from Rajasthan has won the Femina Miss India World 2019 beauty pageant during a star-studded ceremony at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium in Mumbai.

Shivani Jadhav from Chhattisgarh clinched Femina Miss Grand India 2019 title and Shreya Shanker from Bihar won Miss India United Continents 2019 title during the grand finale of the beauty pageant on Saturday.
20-year-old Suman, a college student, will represent India at Miss World 2019 in Thailand.
“When you get yourself determined towards a particular goal in life, every single nerve and fibre of your body starts working into that direction for a victorious journey,” she said in an interview.
The prestigious event was adjudged by Bollywood choreographer Remo D’Souza alongside actress Huma Qureshi, Chitrangada Singh, fashion designer Falguni Shane Peacocka and Indian footballer Sunil Chhetri among others.
During the event, film stars like Katrina Kaif, Vicky Kaushal and Mouni Roy enthralled the audience with their dance performances.
The event was hosted by the Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar and actor Manish Paul.

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Hong Kong leader suspends extradition bill

Lam said she would “adopt a sincere and humble attitude in accepting criticism” over the government’s handling of the issue. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Saturday (June 15) that she has suspended indefinitely a proposed extradition bill that sparked the city’s biggest public protests in years. Lam told reporters she took the…

Hong Kong leader suspends extradition bill

Lam said she would “adopt a sincere and humble attitude in accepting criticism” over the government’s handling of the issue.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Saturday (June 15) that she has suspended indefinitely a proposed extradition bill that sparked the city’s biggest public protests in years.

Lam told reporters she took the move in response to widespread public unhappiness over the measure, which would enable authorities to send some suspects to stand trial in courts in mainland China.

Many in the former British colony worry it will further erode cherished legal protections and freedoms. Lam said the government would study the matter further, for the “greatest interest of Hong Kong.”

“After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise,” Lam said.

“I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind,” she said. “We have no intention to set a deadline for this work.”

Lam said she would “adopt a sincere and humble attitude in accepting criticism” over the government’s handling of the issue.

Lam made the announcement as another mass protest was expected on Sunday, after clashes that turned violent on Wednesday, leaving about 80 people injured including 22 police officers.

The standoff between police and protesters in the former British colony is Hong Kong’s most severe political crisis since the Communist Party-ruled mainland took control in 1997 with a promise not to interfere with the city’s civil liberties and courts.

Lam, chosen by Beijing to be the highest-level local official, is caught between her Communist Party bosses and a public anxious to protect the liberties they enjoy as a former British colony.

She had previously refused to withdraw the bill, and many protesters are demanding she quit.

Protests died down late in the week, but around midnight Friday there were still dozens of youths singing and standing vigil near the city’s government headquarters, where demonstrators had tussled with police who deployed tear gas, pepper spray, hoses and steel batons as thousands pushed through barricades.

Police said 11 were arrested. Lam declared that Wednesday’s violence was “rioting,” potentially raising severe legal penalties for those arrested for taking part. In past cases of unrest, authorities have waited months or years before rounding up protest leaders. In April, nine leaders of a 2014 pro-democracy protest movement known as the “Umbrella Revolution” were convicted on public nuisance and other charges.

Prior to Saturday’s announcement by Lam, some members of the Executive Council, Hong Kong’s cabinet, said she should perhaps rethink plans to rush the bills’ passage. A group of former senior government officials issued a public letter urging her not to force a confrontation by pushing ahead with the unpopular bills.

Many in Hong Kong fear the measures would undermine the former British colony’s legal autonomy.

More than 1,000 people joined a peaceful “mother’s protest” Friday evening in a downtown garden.

Adding to tensions, the extradition bill has drawn criticism from US and British lawmakers and human rights groups, prompting Beijing to lash back with warnings against “interference” in its internal affairs.

Anson Chan, a former chief secretary for Hong Kong, said on Friday (June 14) that Lam still could keep her post if she backs down.

“What the people are attempting to tell is that we are very worried about the consequences of passing the extradition bill, because no one will feel safe, even in their own beds, after passage of this bill,” Chan said in an interview.

“It places everybody’s individual freedom and safety at risk,” said Chan, who as chief secretary was the top local civil servant under former British Gov. Chris Patton.

 

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