We spoke with our colleague Georgia Royes to learn more about the free fan engagement program "Fans in the Stands". Find out now what makes our program special, why you should sign up soon, and much more.
How did you first learn about Special Olympics?
Georgia: To be honest, when I saw the job application. I hadn't heard of Special Olympics before and I was looking for jobs in Berlin and found the advertisement for this job. But I was immediately hooked and wanted to join this great movement.
Can you please explain your role in the team?
I am Senior Manager of Spectator Services and Ticketing. So it's three departments: Ticketing, spectator services – so everything that happens on site like lost property, wayfinding and accessibility – and then the Fans in the Stands program.
Please explain the Fans in the Stands program in simple words to a person who never heard of it before.
It’s a free engagement program for schools, organizations and clubs where you both learn about Special Olympics, but also get to come and watch a competition for free.
And who can participate in the program?
Any registered organization: If you're a school or sports club, an after school care, a senior's organization – any kind of group that exists is welcome to come along. The group must be 10 people or more.
What does it mean to the athletes to be competing in front of a cheering crowd?
I think it means everything. My favorite moment of the National Games was watching the 100 meters sprint as there were hundreds of screaming children in the crowd. And it was the most magical atmosphere. So I think it makes all the difference.
If you would compare it to buying a regular ticket, what are the benefits of participating in the Fans in the Stands program?
It's more about what you learn and experience. As it's an engagement program, you'll receive educational materials and explanations of the sport you're seeing. Also, we will help you plan your day and you get free public transport on that day. All benefits are also listed here on our website.
I would register as soon as possible, as we are currently getting a lot of traffic and some slots are already fully booked.
Using the example of a school class participating. What could their day look like?
For example, if you attend at our biggest venue Messe Berlin, you would arrive and we would meet you at the entrance. You'd have a volunteer meet you and brief you on your day, answer all your questions and escort you through to your sport. You could also check out our Non-Competitive Sports Offer where you can get active yourself. And then you could spend your lunchtime in Sommergarten watching the award ceremonies.
Are there specific time frames or is it flexible when people arrive and leave?
We give you a specific sport and a specific sessions. For example, you would be given the morning session at basketball. Then you know exactly what you're seeing and you can learn more about the sport in advance.
Can people choose any sport and any day or are there restrictions?
Georgia: All days are on offer and most sports. There are a few sports that we don't offer for Fans in the Stands. You can find the full list in our FAQ section.
People say they want to come on a specific day to watch a specific sport and then if the capacities are there, we’ll confirm their spot. And if they're not, we’ll work with them to find another option.
Can you tell us a little more about the history of Fans in the Stands at Special Olympics events?
It's a legacy program, so it has existed at most other World Games. It's always a big part of the Games, bringing local schools and organizations in. For example, I know in Abu Dhabi they had tens of thousands of school kids there. So it's a big part of the of the Special Olympics movement.
You personally, what do you most look forward to at the World Games?
Georgia: I think the Opening Ceremony is my favorite, because you’ve got all the excitement in the air. To have a sold out Olympic Stadium with such an incredible atmosphere – I think it's just going to be such a beautiful spectacle and celebration. And you can still get tickets for it.
Is there anything else you would like to add to the topic of Fans in the Stands that we haven't talked about?
Oh, maybe just to say that spaces are filling up. So to groups who are thinking of coming: I would register as soon as possible, as we are currently getting a lot of traffic and some slots are already fully booked.
The deadline to register for the Fans in the Stands program at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 is on 14 May.
What are you waiting for? Register now!
Name: Georgia Royes
Favourite sports: swimming and Australian football
Favourite city: Edinburgh (Scotland)
Favourite animal: platypus
Part of the Special Olympics family since: 2021
Thank you, Georgia!