The 2023 edition of the Special Olympics World Games will receive TV coverage by members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) alliance for public service broadcasters.

The deal, struck by the EBU’s Eurovision Sport division with the games’ organizing committee, the Special Olympics Europe Eurasia organization, and global broadcast partner ESPN, includes TV and digital rights.

It will see the world’s premier multi-sport event for individuals with intellectual disabilities, which this year begins tomorrow (June 17) and runs to June 25 in Berlin, Germany, be shown domestically by ARD and ZDF (Germany). They are joined by ORF (Austria), RTBF and VRT (Belgium), YLE (Finland), ERT (Greece); NRK (Norway), TVP (Poland), RTS (Serbia), RTVE (Spain), SVT (Sweden), SRG (Switzerland), and TRT (Turkey).

Coverage will variously include tomorrow’s opening ceremony, live action, news, clips, and wrap-up highlights after the games.

The agreement builds upon an existing relationship between the EBU and the Special Olympics body, with an agreement to deliver coverage of its 2022 winter event and this year's summer event, initially struck in 2021.

Italy’s Rai and the UK’s BBC will also provide coverage of the 2023 games through deals agreed separately with the Special Olympics Italy and Special Olympics UK national bodies.

This year’s edition of the biennial event is expected to see around 7,000 athletes from approximately 190 international delegations compete in 26 sports. These are athletics, badminton, basketball, basketball 3×3, beach volleyball, boccia, bowling, cycling, equestrian, field hockey, soccer, futsal, golf, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, handball, judo, kayaking, open water swimming, powerlifting, roller skating, sailing, swimming, table tennis, tennis, and volleyball.

Glen Killane, executive director of Eurovision Sport, said: “Eurovision Sport is delighted to contribute to widening the exposure of this inclusive event across Europe, thanks to the support of EBU Members’ free-to-air coverage in some of the continent’s largest TV markets.

“The EBU and Eurovision Sport are committed to using the inclusive power of sport to help to reach and unify people across society. Our support for the 2023 Special Olympics World Games is central to our DNA.”

David Evangelista, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia president and managing director, added: “We are thrilled to announce the partnership between Eurovision Sport, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, the Berlin 2023 Organizing Committee, and ESPN.

“This collaboration signifies a remarkable milestone in our mission to create a more inclusive world, as it amplifies the reach and impact of the World Games across the region. By joining forces with Eurovision Sport, ESPN, and Berlin 2023, we are unlocking the potential to inspire millions, championing the abilities and dreams of our exceptional athletes.

“Together, we will showcase the transformative power of sport and drive a powerful message of acceptance, unity, and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities. This agreement truly embodies the essence of the Special Olympics mission and vision, igniting a wave of change that will leave a lasting legacy of inclusivity in the hearts of people not only in the Europe/Eurasia region but worldwide.”

Meanwhile, it will be possible for fans and viewers to place bets on the 2023 edition of the Special Olympics World Games.

Betting firm BetOnline is offering the odds and has said it is the first time in the 55-year history of the games that this has been done.

Odds are being provided for six of the 26 sports featuring at the games – athletics, basketball, cycling, powerlifting, soccer, and swimming – for individual and team disciplines, and for male and female athletes.

BetOnline has said that to ensure integrity only markets for disciplines within the top-tier divisions and the ‘non-unified sports’ category are being offered, with basketball, powerlifting’s bench press, and soccer proving the most popular so far.

The firm has committed to donating $10,000 to a non-profit organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities following their conclusion.

BetOnline brand manager Edward Knight said: “There's nothing gimmicky about these odds. Just like any other sport, we've created Special Olympics odds behind weeks and weeks of research. These are incredibly skilled athletes competing on an even playing field, and our oddsmakers will give these World Games the same level of attention and respect as the Super Bowl.”

Knight added: “We anticipate some negative reaction for our Special Olympics odds, but we've been doing this for nearly three decades and have proven that our offerings have an overall positive impact on the visibility of a sport.

“We're a gaming company that provides entertainment products, so every goal behind our marketing strategies is to generate publicity not only for us but also for the competition. These athletes have worked their butts off to get to Berlin, and they deserve every additional layer of exposure they can get.”

Image: Tilo Wiedensohler