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ESPN’s Coverage of Special Olympics Begins July 1st


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ESPN’s coverage of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle will begin July 1st with a live two-and-a-half hour special on ABC capturing the inspiration, pageantry, performances and special guests of the USA Games Opening Ceremony.

Kevin Negandhi will host ESPN’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony, and will anchor its nightly coverage throughout the Games. Monday, July 2 through Friday, July 6, Negandhi will host 2018 Special Olympics USA Games each night on ESPN2, bringing viewers the stories, competition showcase, interviews and more from Seattle each evening.

Additionally, throughout the week, ESPN3 will carry six and a half hours of LIVE streaming coverage from swimming competition taking place at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

Special Olympics athlete and ambassador Daina Shilts will make her debut with ESPN, serving as Special Olympics Analyst throughout the Games and during the Opening Ceremony. ESPN’s coverage team will also include reporters Marty Smith, Holly Rowe and Jen Lada, swimming analysts Paul Sunderland, Victoria Arlen and Rowdy Gaines, as well as contributions from Kenny Mayne.



“Anybody that loves sports and storytelling is going to love our coverage of the Special Olympics USA Games,” said Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International. “The Opening Ceremony will be an extraordinary live event and viewers will be so impressed by these athletes, their ability and competitive spirit and the incredible stories we will tell throughout the week.”

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will also mark the beginning of an extended period of Special Olympics related coverage by ESPN, followed by coverage celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics and culminating in ESPN’s coverage of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, in Abu Dhabi in March.

As the Official Broadcaster for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, ESPN’s coverage will be carried across the ABC and ESPN family of networks in the U.S. (ABC, ESPN2), as well as streamed on the newly re-imagined ESPN App. Live swimming competition coverage will be streamed on ESPN3.

In the build-up to the Games, ESPN will feature a series of short vignettes that will appear daily on SportsCenter and across ESPN digital and social media platforms.

The Opening Ceremony will be live on ABC, beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. Hosted by Negandhi, and emceed by actor-singer Taye Diggs, it will feature musical performances by multi-GRAMMY nominated singer, songwriter and producer Charlie Puth, world renowned DJ and producer Marshmello, singer-songwriter Allen Stone, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Ann Wilson (of Heart), Seattle hip hop crew Massive Monkees and more. A 2,018-member choir, one of the largest vocal ensembles in Washington State history, will also serve as a living backdrop to the show.

ESPN’s evening programs – 2018 Special Olympics USA Games – will be on ESPN2 each night at 6 p.m. ET (except Wednesday, July 4 – when it will air at 5 p.m.). Negandhi hosting from various venues and iconic locations around Seattle – capturing not only the event itself, but the atmosphere and character of the host city. Each night, Negandhi will provide viewers with incredible stories, athlete profiles and features from around the 2018 USA Games, as well as recapping key results from each days’ competition. ESPN’s coverage will also include a special vignette series that will be shown across ESPN’s digital and television platforms.

Each night’s program will feature a special “Around The Games with Daina Shilts presented by Bank of America” segment hosted by Shilts. The daily segment will bring viewers inside the atmosphere of the Games, capturing the unique excitement around Seattle, highlighting different aspects of the daily goings on around Seattle and the experiences of the athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators at the Games.

The Games will also be covered by SportsCenter throughout the week, with daily segments in the SportsCenter AM and 6pm editions focused on the stories, developments and activities from Seattle.

ESPN’s week-long coverage will be rounded out with a one-hour program on ABC Sunday, July 8 at 2 p.m., providing highlights from the Closing Ceremony and highlights from the week of coverage.

ESPN’s industry-leading digital and print media platforms – including ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine and the ESPN App – will deliver coverage of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games with video, news, long-form feature storytelling, exclusive blogs from athletes, coaches and volunteers, photo galleries and more.

In addition to coverage on ABC and ESPN2 in the United States, ESPN’s coverage of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will reach sports fans and viewers around the world on ESPN networks across Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, as well as on TSN in Canada. Additionally, Special Olympics USA Games coverage will be carried on the ESPN Player streaming service across dozens of countries in EMEA and on Tencent digital media platforms in China.