More than 300 Special Olympics athletes and coaches participated in the “Pre-Games” of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, PyeongChang, 2013 on 22-24 February 2012. Pre-Games allow the Games Organizing Committee (GOC), with the help of athletes, coaches and officials, to conduct a trial-run of the upcoming Games to ensure their operational excellence for an anticipated 3,000 athlete participants.
Athletes competed in four of Special Olympics’ official winter sports including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, short track speed skating and figure skating. Athletes from Korea, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong Macau, Austria, Czech Republic, Russia and the United States participated in competitions, which were held in in Pyeongchang and Gangneung.
Na Kyung Won, Chairwoman of the Special Olympics World Winter Games Organizing Committee PyeongChang 2013 welcomed athletes and officials to Korea, saying “This Pre-Games have been prepared to inspect the operation in order to prepare the most wonderful, successful Special Olympics World Winter Games Pyeongchang 2013. With experiences from the Pre-Games, we will do our best preparing for the sports festival where everyone including athletes from all over the world, coach, volunteers can initiate changes.”
During Pre-Games, GOC members collaborated with sports-specific experts, including representatives of Korean Sports Federations, to inspect competitions; test accommodations, security, food services, and transportation; conduct Healthy Athletes programming, including screenings for 100 athletes; assess media relations and onsite management for more than 100 media; showcase the creative look and design of the Games, which will garner excitement and awareness throughout Korea; and engage and train an excellent and enthusiastic corps of volunteers. Most importantly, the Pre-Games provided the GOC and volunteers a unique, life-changing opportunity to meet and interact with Special Olympics athletes. They also demonstrated how many months of planning and preparation are coming to fruition, ultimately embodying the Games’ theme “Together We Can.”