The inaugural Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games Opening Ceremony took place today in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. The Games will see more than 2,500 Special Olympic athletes, their coaches and support teams from 29 Asia Pacific and East Asia countries compete in nine Olympic-type sports.
The Games was declared open by the Governor General of The Commonwealth of Australia and Patron of Special Olympics Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO.
The Opening Ceremony heralded the start of the inaugural Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games which is being staged in Newcastle until 7 December. The athletes will compete in nine sports across seven venues in the Newcastle-Hunter region with competition in athletics, basketball, bocce, badminton, cricket, football, table tennis, ten pin bowling and swimming.
Special Olympics International CEO Janet Froetscher sent a message of support to the athletes that was shared at the opening ceremony: “Athletes, it is your time to shine! Every day around the world we create opportunities of acceptance and inclusion through our sports, health, education and community building programs. We strive to build communities full of joy and wellness, instilling in young people the benefits of playing unified –uniting athletes with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates. Today and throughout these Games, enjoy the moments of accomplishment, the moments of sheer play, but also consider how everyone can create opportunities of accomplishment every day for our athletes."