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Watch the Flame of Hope Lighting Ceremony

During a moving ceremony in Athens, Greece on 27 February 2019, the Flame of Hope torch was lit by the rays of the sun as the first part of its journey to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. This marks the first time in Special Olympics history that World Games will be held in the Middle East and North Africa Region.

Torch Lighting 2019

The flame lighting ceremony took place in Zappeion Palace, the birthplace of the Olympics. In attendance were dignitaries and high-level officials from Greece, UAE, Special Olympics and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, as well as figure skating champion and Special Olympics Board member Michelle Kwan.

Iliana Symeonidou, High Priestess and Special Olympics athlete, lit the flame and passed it to Special Olympics Hellas athletes and law enforcement officials, who carried it through the streets of Athens. Its next stop is the UAE, where members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) will relay the Flame of Hope through all seven emirates before lighting the cauldron at the World Games Opening Ceremony on 14 March.