For Immediate Release
ATHENS, GREECE -- 24 June 2011 – At a star-studded opening ceremony on the night of Saturday, 25 June, Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 will officially be under way. For the next 10 days, from 25 June to 4 July, more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from nearly 180 countries around the world will compete in the largest international multi-sport event of the year, featuring 22 Olympic-type sports.
The 2011 World Games will be officially opened by His Excellency Karolos Papoulias, President of the Hellenic Republic, at a ceremony that will be broadcast around the world and locally aired live by Greek host broadcaster, ERT. The broadcast begins at 20:30 local time (17:30 UTC/GMT) and will feature performances and presentations by internationally renowned artists and celebrities. The highlight of the Opening Ceremony will be the Parade of Athletes during which every Special Olympics delegation will march into Athens’ historic Kallimarmaron Panthinaikon Olympic Stadium – site of the first Olympic Games of the modern era – each team led by a sign bearer wearing traditional Greek costume.
The athletes and spectators will be entertained by legendary singer, songwriter, musician and producer Stevie Wonder, singing sensation Alkistis Protopsalti, tenor Vittorio Grigolo, tenor Mario Frangoulis and recording artist Vanessa Williams, who will host the ceremony. Actress Zhang Ziyi and author Maria Menounos will make special presentations.
These Special Olympics World Games are uniting the world in Athens, Greece and will be 10 days of sports excitement with various community-building events throughout. Tens of thousands of athletes, families, friends, sponsors and spectators have traveled to Greece for the World Games.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.
Media Contact: Mandy Murphy
Special Olympics International