As part of its role as the official airline partner of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Etihad Airways flew the World Games Flame of Hope to Abu Dhabi.
The flame, which was carried in a specially designed cradle on a Boeing 787-9 with a Special Olympics livery, arrived at a special ceremony that was held at the Abu Dhabi International Airport’s VIP Terminal.
The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance; Her Excellency Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, UAE Minister of Community; Major General Khalifa Hareb Al-Khaili, Chairman of the Institutional Development Council at the Ministry of Interior; Khalfan Mohamad Al Mazrouei, Managing Director, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019; and Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of the Special Olympics UAE.
Also present were representatives from the Special Olympics, as well as members of Etihad Aviation Group and other organisations related to the Games.
Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group CEO, said: “Flying the World Games Flame of Hope from Athens to Abu Dhabi in the UAE’s Year of Tolerance is a tremendous honour for all of us at Etihad.
“As the official airline partner of the games, the greatest reward for Etihad, and for all of us who call the UAE home, is, without doubt, the opportunity to play our part in supporting and celebrating athletes of determination, and to showcasing Abu Dhabi as a forward-thinking and multicultural centre of tolerance, faith and inclusion. We wish them every success.”
As the first instance, the Games will be held in the Middle East and North Africa region, the event is expected to draw over 500,000 spectators. Over 7,500 athletes from 190 nations are expected to participate in the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
In addition to transporting the Flame to the UAE, Etihad Airways will also ferry athletes, their support teams, as well as dignitaries and media to the Abu Dhabi for the event. A total of 2,500 coaches and delegates are expected to accompany the athletes.
The torch is expected to be toured across all seven emirates from 4 – 13 March, before arriving at the opening ceremony of the Games.