LAHORE-The 17th Punjab Special Olympics Games were inaugurated here on Wednesday. The three-day sports festival is being arranged with the collaboration of Sports Board Punjab , Special Monitoring Unit (SMU) and Pakistan Olympics Association (POA).

Provincial Minister for sports and youth affairs Jahangir Khanzada inaugurated the event and also lit flame of the 17th Punjab Special Olympic Games . Also present on the occasion were Secretary Sports Punjab M Aamir Jan, Special Monitoring Unit in-charge Fatima Zaidi, Aneesur Rehman of Special Olympic Association Punjab and model Mehreen Syed were also present on the occasion.

More than 1,100 special athletes had been taking part in the three-day competitions along with 200 coaches and volunteers. In the games , differently-abled athletes are taking part in competitions of athletics, basketball, badminton, bocce, cycling, football, table tennis, powerlifting and swimming.

Speaking on the occasion, provincial minister for sports and youth affairs Jahangir Khanzada has said that Punjab government is strongly encouraging and undertaking reforms to accelerate pace towards inclusivity and strengthening resolve of 'No Athlete Left Behind'.  He said that he was delighted to deliver and conduct these games in collaboration with Special Olympics Pakistan. “Today, differently-abled youth from Punjab has been showcasing athleticism as it binds us together in hope and struggle for inclusivity and harmony.  “This landmark initiative is a continuation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s resolve of ‘No Athlete Left Behind’, where three special athletes from Punjab were sponsored by the provincial government for the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria and the winners were honored in a separate reception as well,” he said and added: “Many of the athletes from these games will be representing Punjab at the forth coming Special Olympics Pakistan National Games and may also represent our country in the World Games which will be held in Abu Dhabi in 2019.”

Special Olympics Pakistan’s chairperson Ronak Lakhani shed light on the importance of having initiatives for differently-abled children. “My team and I are very grateful to the Punjab government and the CM’s Special Monitoring Unit for their support in the Games .”