Special Olympics Returns to the Birthplace of Sport in a Historic Opening CeremonyJun26
||Kenneth Kavanagh, Kildare Town, Co. Kildare, Ruairi O'Toole, An Spidéal, Co. Galway, Eileen Hayes, Kill, Co. Waterford, and Pearse O’Toole, Spiddal, Co. Galway 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Opening Ceremony, Panathenaikon Stadium, Athens, Greece|
Team Ireland enjoy performance by the legendary Stevie Wonder
The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games are officially underway in Athens following a spectacular opening ceremony in the historic historic Kallimarmaron Panthinaikon Olympic Stadium - site of the first Olympic Games of the modern era last night.
Over 7,000 athletes from 180 nations took part in the parade of athletes. Team Ireland received a huge welcome from the crowd as they walked into the stadium. The loudest cheer came from the 200 Irish volunteers dressed in green who jumped to their feet to applaud and cheer on their Irish sporting heroes.
The athletes, their family members and supporters were treated to an array of colourful and exciting performances, but the highlight for most people was when the legendary Stevie Wonder took to the stage to perform some of his well-known and much loved songs, among them a duet of the song ‘That’s what friends are for’ with longtime Special Olympics supporter Vanessa Williams.
Speaking at the ceremony Dr. Timothy P.Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics said “I think we’re home”. He continued by saying “Let me extend my thanks to the people of Greece, despite all the difficulties and challenges this country is facing, Greece did not fail us and the athletes of Special Olympics will not fail Greece!”
Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 are now officially 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. Team Ireland, sponsored by eircom will compete in 12 different sports. To follow their progress at the Games or to leave a message of support for the athletes, please visit www.specialolympics.ie/athens