"Presenting the torch that will bring the Flame of Hope to Berlin in June, 50 days before the start of the games, is a special milestone on the road to the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin. Tens of thousands of people will celebrate a festival of inclusion in June. We are very much looking forward to athletes from all over the world, and that many people will attend the competitions in 26 sports. It will be an unforgettable experience for everyone to be a part of the World Games together with our athletes. The torch is a symbol of the power and vision of Special Olympics to bring more attention and participation to people with intellectual and multiple disabilities."
The torch is unique and was made especially for the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. The design of the torch contains the elements of the World Games logo such as the Berlin Bear, Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower, and the heart.
In Germany, the Flame of Hope will be lit for the first time on June 14. After that, the official torch run (LETR Final Leg® Law Enforcement Torch Run) will go through the Host Towns from Brandenburg and Berlin. On June 17, the flame of the Special Olympics World Games will be lit at the Opening Ceremony in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
During the run from 14 to 16th of June, the torch will be accompanied by 100 international runners, including international Special Olympics athletes and international police officers. The LETR program was founded 40 years ago by a U.S. police officer and has been closely associated with Special Olympics ever since.
"As a former top athlete, I am proud to be part of the team and to carry the torch. It is a very special moment for me, and every athlete knows what a great honor this is. The Flame of Hope, in addition to the message of peace as well as friendship, is also a symbol of respect, equality, and inclusion and as police officers, we stand for these values in our daily service," said torchbearer Thomas Pöge of the Brandenburg Police.
"Having grown up amidst an inclusive school, I was able to experience first-hand how important acceptance and inclusion are. Images of the Torch Relay from America made such a lasting impres- sion on me that, as a police officer, I absolutely wanted to become part of this movement. It is important to me that there is also a LETR in Germany, which is why I am now involved in the planning of founding a LETR Germany,"
Torchbearer and Special Olympics track and field athlete Marko Fähling is looking forward to his assignment: "This is a great honor for me to present the World Games torch today. I'm already very excited to see when the torch is carried into the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony."
On June 13, one day before the start of the Torch Relay, the nationwide awareness Day of Inclusion will take place as part of the World Games. On this day more than 100 host towns hold local runs with a specially designed torch or other inclusive events. In this way, municipalities throughout Germany create awareness for the Special Olympics movement and set a regional example for inclusion.
About Special Olympics
Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners and one million coaches and volunteers in over 200 accredited Programs, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedInand our blog on Medium. Learn more at www.SpecialOlympics.org.