Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — The Special Olympics World Games are making history in Los Angeles.
The city is officially opening its host doors Tuesday and welcoming national delegations from more than 165 countries.
The event — kicking off on July 25 — will be the single largest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics, with more than 7,000 athletes supported by more than 500,000 spectators.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — host to the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games — is serving as the site for the star-studded opening ceremony on July 25. First lady Michelle Obama will attend the event where Stevie Wonder, Avril Lavigne, Cody Simpson and others are scheduled to perform and kick off the games. VIP appearances are also expected by Jimmy Kimmel, Eva Longoria and Michael Phelps.
25 Different Sports
The World Games boast 7,000 athletes competing in 25 sports — just shy of the 28 that athletes compete in for the Summer Olympics. Spectators will see sports similar to the summer games, like volleyball, tennis and gymnastics. But the World Games athletes are competing in sports — like bocce, bowling and roller skating — that you won’t see in the summer or winter games. The top three athletes will hit the podium for their gold, silver, or bronze medals, respectively, and athletes placing fourth through eighth will be recognized with ribbons.
Los Angeles Venues
The athletes all convene at the Opening Ceremony at the Coliseum, then spread out across Los Angeles to 27 venues, spanning the city, from USC and UCLA to Long Beach and LA Live. Most notably, USC’s Galen Center will host all the basketball games and UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion will be called home for all the volleyball games.
Not Just About Sports
Outside of the hundreds of sporting events, the World Games is putting on two festivals — one at USC’s Alumni Park and the other at UCLA’s Wilson Plaza. Like the rest of the sporting events, they’re free and open to the public. In addition to attending live music performances and cultural events, visitors have the chance to send encouraging messages to the competing athletes.
Powered by Volunteers
The World Games has a full roster of 30,000 volunteers for the nine days of events. These volunteers are serving shifts to make the games possible and providing everything from medical services to rides to the venues for the athletes. There’s even a “Fans in the Stands” program to make sure each event has supporters cheering on the athletes.
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