The Special Olympics Berlin Games took place from June 17-25, 2023, and were regarded as the world’s largest inclusive sports event. Over 6,500 Special Olympics athletes with intellectual disabilities from 178 international delegations united in Germany for the occasion. The Games saw 330,000 spectators across nine days, featuring 26 sports. More than 4,000 medals were awarded during the event.

Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 – SPECIAL OLYMPICS

The Games also saw significant support from volunteers and family members, with 18,000 volunteers from 126 countries, 9,000 family members and 3,000 coaches and support staff present to help make this event a unique and memorable moment. 

Stephan Fox remarked:

“The Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 was a life changing experience about real inclusion, amazing talents with true sportsmanship and incredible coaches who dedicate themselves above and beyond. Everyone is the best version of themself. I will continue to support at every level this amazing and necessary movement.”

The Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes Program was present at the event, and conducted 15,353 screenings, benefiting approximately 5,000 athletes. Volunteers, including 100 doctors, 70 dentists, and 715 students and trainees provided critical health services. Notably, over 2,350 eye tests were conducted, resulting in around 1,065 eyeglass prescriptions as part of the “Opening Eyes” program.

Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes Program, Berlin 2023 – SPECIAL OLYMPICS

UTS CEO Julia Govinden praised the event, saying:

“Without doubt a sport career highlight to be present for such a meaningful and life changing sport event. I have never seen anything like it. The dedication of the SOI team to ensure these Games go beyond sport but also into really helping athletes to thrive through healthcare support, critical education and giving the athletes a voice. The world needs more of this approach and we support the Special Olympics towards the #inclusionRevolution.”

One athlete shared his feedback on the impact of the event :

“If I never started playing football, I don’t think I would ever be who I am today. I think I’d be in my room and not really doing anything.”

Bradley is a Special Olympics football player from Essex in Great Britain and now holds a bronze medal from the Berlin Games and works at a trade tools and accessories company, Screwfix. He attributes his new job to the social confidence he gained at the World Games, saying,

“If I didn’t go [to the Special Olympics World Games], I don’t think I’d have ever got a job.”


Continuing the legacy of Special Olympics and UTS, we recently invited Kiera Byland in her capacity of Special Olympics Global Athlete Congress Chair and Board Member of Special Olympics International and Special Olympics Great Britain, to join UTS’s United Through Diversity Forum during SportAccord Birmingham 2024 last April. During the forum, youths addressed leaders of the international sports community, royalty, and government officials, and Kiera served as a powerful advocate for inclusivity and diversity in sports. Her journey from fulfilling her dreams as a Special Olympics athlete to becoming a voice for athletes worldwide resonated deeply with the audience. 

Kiera Byland

In addition to her role in the Special Olympics, Kiera is involved with Lions Clubs International. For over 100 years, Lions Clubs have empowered local communities through service, fostering inclusion and support for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Kiera joined Lions Clubs International in 2019 and serves as a proud member and leader, exemplifying the power of inclusion and service.

Kiera is doing great things, and we couldn’t be more proud of her. Let’s continue to support her journey and we look forward to our next collaboration with Special Olympics and Kiera!