Detroit will host Special Olympics teams from 25 countries from July 31 to Aug. 6 to participate in the Unified Cup 2022 presented by Toyota and supported by hometown sponsor Ally Financial.
More than 300 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities will join to celebrate the sports and the power of inclusion through camaraderie, competition, and breaking down social barriers.
“Over the past decade, exemplary work has been accomplished in Detroit,” says Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics International. “From growing the Detroit Public School Community District to be the largest Unified Champion School district in the nation to creating the city’s first Unified Football League, Detroit has Unified Sports written in its DNA and branded on its legacy moving forward.”
Special Olympics Unified Sports brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to play on the same team, demonstrating how playing and competing together breaks down barriers and ultimately creates communities of acceptance and inclusion. The Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 will be the second-ever tournament in this single-sport series, following the inaugural competition in 2018 in Chicago.
Selected Special Olympics female teams include Burkina Faso, Caribbean (Haiti, Aruba, Bahamas), Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Bharat (India), Mexico, Russia, Slovakia, Serendib (Sri Lanka), the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S.
Selected Special Olympics male teams include Brazil, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Nippon (Japan), Korea, Morocco, Nigeria, Paraguay, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the U.S.
“I love how inclusive Unified Sports are,” says Max Hinga, Special Olympics Michigan athlete and global messenger. “It is about being the best athlete you can be but not all about winning. It allows us as athletes to show that we can do anything.”
Competition and events throughout the week are expected to attract more than 10,000 spectators, 1,000 volunteers, and 500 family members and dignitaries to the tournament. Additionally, the competition will be broadcast by ESPN and reach millions of viewers across the globe.
A primary objective of the Special Olympics Unified Cup is to reach and collaborate with professional football clubs, their foundations, and football federations to support the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and the development of Unified Sports.
“We’re excited to welcome athletes and their families to Detroit this summer,” says Todd Kropp, co-owner of Detroit City FC. “The DCFC community has a longstanding relationship with Special Olympics and shared mutual values for promoting a more inclusive society. We look forward to hosting the finals at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck and creating an electric atmosphere for the athletes.”
The finals will be broadcast from Keyworth Stadium to hundreds of millions of viewers across the globe by ESPN, the global broadcast partner of Special Olympics and the global presenting sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports.
Sponsors of Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 include Toyota, ESPN, Ally Financial, Gallagher, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network, The Coca-Cola Co., and The Real Estate One Charitable Foundation.