Microsoft has worked with the Special Olympics since 2014 with the goal of empowering the Special Olympic athletes through technology. Four years later and Xbox fostered another partnership with the Special Olympics SA Games by hosting the Xbox Gaming Tournament. However, with the pandemic hitting in 2020, the world had to pause to battle the virus and this led to an innovative way to support these Special Olympic athletes who were dealing with stay-at-home orders.
This led to the 2020 Special Olympics Xbox Virtual Gaming Event. Now, the partnership is going global by kicking off the inaugural Gaming for Inclusion event presented by Microsoft.
From September 12-14, Special Olympic athletes will compete in Rocket League, Madden NFL 22, and Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox to be given the chance to play alongside celebrity supporters of Special Olympics, including NBA superstar Jayson Tatum, NFL legend Jamaal Charles, and WWE Superstars on September 18.
“COVID-19 and the suspension of hundreds of thousands of annual in-person events worldwide meant Special Olympics had to pivot to supporting virtual experiences,” said Prianka Nandy, Chief Information and Technology Officer at Special Olympics. “Our digital transformation partners at Microsoft brought their expertise in developing scalable and accessible digital platforms that allow people of all abilities to build connections with others through the universal language of gaming. Together, we’ve shaped an innovative program that will last well beyond the pandemic.”
Xbox has been vocal on inclusion over the years and this new initiative showcases that objective through the Gaming for Inclusions esports experience.
“We’re ecstatic to build upon Microsoft’s partnership with Special Olympics, which first began in 2014, to further focus on gaming and host Gaming for Inclusion,” said Jenn Panattoni, Head of Xbox Social Impact. “At Xbox, our goal is to make gaming inclusive and welcoming to all players so that everyone can experience the joys of gaming. This tournament is a meaningful and important step in making esports more accessible and it empowers Special Olympics athletes with a new way to compete.”
All of the competitions will be held on the Microsoft esports platform Smash.gg using a bracket-style tournament. Tune in on the Xbox Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel.
The dates are as follows:
- Sunday, September 12: Rocket League Tournament
- Monday, September 13: Forza Motorsport 7 Tournament
- Tuesday, September 14: Madden NFL 22 Tournament
- Saturday, September 18: Celebrity Showcase with winners from tournaments earlier in the week