Special Olympics Floorball will be an official sport at the Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Austria 2017.

The cities of Graz and Schladming in Styria, Austria, will host the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

– Receiving the official Special Olympics World Games status has been our goal since the World Games demonstration in Korea. The process of receiving the official recognition has taken some time, but now we finally received the positive news from the Special Olympics International headquarters in Washington, says Mariusz Damentko, Sports Director of Special Olympics Europa and Eurasia.

Floorball was for the first time included as a demonstration sport in the Special Olympics World Winter Games played in PyeongChang & Gangneung, January 29th to February 5th 2013 and the tournament was played with eight teams. For the 2017 World Games the aims are set higher and the goal is to play a tournament with over 20 teams with floorball now included as an official Special Olympics World Games sport.

– It is with great pleasure IFF finds that the Special Olympics Headquarters have accepted Floorball as an official sport for their Winter World Games. We hope that our sport can activate a lot of Special Olympics athletes and add value to the Special Olympics Winter World Games, John Liljelund, IFF Secretary General, comments

To receive the official World Games status, there needed to be 21 countries in three regions playing the sport. Other requirements that needed to be fulfilled were having a Sport Resource Team (SRT) in place and existing cooperation with the International governing body (IFF). In addition existing IGB rules and the acceptance from Special Olympics International Medical Committee and Sports Rules Committee was required.

Special Olympics Floorball is now played in 24 countries in four regions fulfilling all requirements and the SOI Board of Directors approved floorball as the 8th Official Special Olympics World Winter Games sport.

– We believe that floorball as an adaptable, fun and relatively cheap team sport will become a great addition to the Special Olympics Winter World Games program. The cooperation with the Special Olympics has proved to be fruitful for both parties and together we can spread the sport further, says Merita Bruun, IFF SO Floorball Resource Team representative.

Special Olympics World Games
Every two years, thousands of Special Olympics athletes worldwide come together to showcase their athletic skills and celebrate the spirit of Special Olympics, which holds over 50,000 competitions per year. The first Special Olympics World Games took place in 1968 and since then has evolved into a world-class sporting event, attracting a wide range of sponsors, supporters and media. Alternating between Summer Games and Winter Games, Special Olympics World Games brings public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers that excluded them from the mainstream of the community.

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to 4,2 million athletes in 183 countries worldwide, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and related programs. Special Olympics takes place daily, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship.

Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org

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