On May 18, Special Olympics North America and Special Olympics Florida announced that Orlando has been named as the host city for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.
Taking place from June 5-10, 2022, more than 4,000 athletes, 10,000 volunteers, 1,500 coaches, and 75,000 fans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will travel across the U.S. to unite and participate in one of the world’s most cherished sporting events – the Special Olympics USA Games.
For the first time, an invitation will be extended to Special Olympics Programs in the Caribbean to also participate in the Games.
The Games will be comprised of 15 Olympic-type team and individual sports, as well as five potential demonstration sports. The Games are expected to be hosted at various venues across the Orlando area including, the YMCA Aquatic Center, the U.S. Tennis Association campus in Lake Nona, the Walt Disney World Resort and Boardwalk Bowl.
“Central Florida has long been known as a welcoming destination for families and boasts some of the world’s most famed attractions, including world-class experiences and sporting venues. Beyond that, Florida itself is renowned for its hospitality, making it the ideal location for the unifying and inspiring Special Olympics Games,” a Special Olympics release noted.
The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics Florida.
“After a year-long bid process, we are proud that so many of our athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and fans will get to visit Florida for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games,” said Joe Dzaluk, President and CEO of 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. “The USA Games will open our hearts and minds towards people with intellectual disabilities. This monumental endeavor will create a pivotal stage for Special Olympics and brings to light the passionate work Floridians have long been doing, including helping the outstanding athletes achieve their dreams and promote health, education, inclusion and acceptance.”
Hosting the Games in the Orlando area has the potential to generate as much as $61 million dollars in economic impact for the Orlando area, the release said.
“We are beyond delighted here at Special Olympics Florida that so many Special Olympics athletes and families will be coming to our awe-inspiring city of Orlando,” said Sherry Wheelock, President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida. “For years, the USA Games have inspired thousands of people through the power of sports, and it is our goal here in Florida to continue the tradition by connecting, promoting and motivating individuals by showcasing our commitment to those with intellectual disabilities and our passion for education, health and sports.”
Governor Rick Scott said, “Each year, the Special Olympics provides an opportunity for thousands of Floridians to stay active and healthy, and every four years, the nation comes together to celebrate these incredible athletes. As Florida prepares to host the 2022 Games, we will be celebrating the progress we’ve made toward diversity and inclusion, but we will also be supporting and creating jobs here in Orlando. We couldn’t be more excited about hosting the Special Olympics USA Games in 2022.”