Lebanese and Moroccan Athletes in Pyeongchang Olympics 2018
By Emiliya Strahilova/Arab America Contributing Writer
The Winter Olympics started on Friday, February 9 with a spectacular ceremony under the name “Peace of Motion.” The theme of the show was unity and friendship between the nations. This year’s opening will be remembered with the attendance of North Korea and their delegation seated just a few rows away from Vice President Mike Pence.
Apart from the glamour and the buzz around the ceremony, the competitions had already started one day earlier. The only Arab countries that qualified for the Olympics are Lebanon and Morocco. Here is a short overview of their contestants:
Adam Lamhamedi – Only 22 years old but already a champion at the Youth Olympics. Adam is an alpine skier born in Canada and competing for Morocco. He has always insisted on representing Morocco instead of Canada and caught the eye as a flagbearer for the African country at the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony.
Samir Azzimani – Samir will compete as a cross-country skier. He has experience from the 2010 Winter Olympics where he was the single athlete from Morocco and carried the country flag as well.
Allen Behlok – Among the youngest Arabs competing in Pyeongchang. This will be his first time representing Lebanon at the Olympics.
Samer Tawk – He is the first ever cross-country skier to represent Lebanon at the Olympics.
Natacha Mohbat – The only woman alpine ski racer competing for her country. Natacha participated in the 2015 World Championships in Beaver Creek, U.S. in the slalom.
Meanwhile, it was officially announced that the Special World Olympics will be held in the Middle East and North Africa region for the first time. The games starting on March 14, 2019, in Abu Dhabi, will be the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019. Nearly 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches, representing 177 countries, will compete in 24 Olympic-style sports at venues throughout Abu Dhabi. Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Capital City of the UAE will be the host of both 2018 Special Olympics 9th MENA games and the World Summer Games celebrating the golden jubilee of Special Olympics (SO) movement.