Avril Lavigne, Tamer Hosny, Luis Fonsi, and Hussain al Jassmi gave earnest performances last Thursday at the opening ceremony of the Special World Olympics 2019 in Abu Dhabi. The event’s pre-show also featured Now United, a pop group of 14 people from Brazil, Philippines, Senegal, and India between the ages of 16 and 20. Meanwhile, Bliss, an Emirati DJ raised the crowd’s excitement for the opening ceremony. And as a a symbolic act advocating universal solidarity regardless of people’s physical features, mental status or physical ability, there was also a moving performance called, Woven World which featured children performing alongside a video of athletes conveying unity.

When it was time for the athletes’ parade, DJ Paul Oakenfold took to the stage with an extraordinary hour and a half set, as over 7500 athletes from more than 190 different countries were introduced. This was followed by a performance of the first Olympic anthem, “Right Where I am Supposed To Be”, in both Arabic and English by a group of singers that included Canadian singer, songwriter, Avril Lavigne, Egyptian pop star, Tamer Hosny;  Luis Fonsi, of Despacito fame, and Hussain Al Jassmi, the Emirati singer. As the ceremony concluded, the LED bracelets worn by the crowd lit up the stadium while a rainbow of fireworks lit up the sky. The beautiful and touching opening ceremony was an excellent start to what is expected to be a week of courage and perseverance by these amazing athletes.