Athens: The Flame of Hope, which will be burning for the Berlin 2023 Special Olympics World Games, was lit and the torch handed over to German organisers of the Games which will be held from June 17-25.
The ritual ceremony was held here on Wednesday with the participation of Special Olympics athletes in the tradition of lighting the flame for the Olympic Games.
The event was hosted at Zappeion exhibition hall, near the stadium which hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896.
The flame was ignited out of a concave mirror using the sun’s rays. A Greek girl playing the role of an ancient Greek High Priestess lit the torch, and handed it over to the German organizers of the Games, which is to be held from June 17-25, reports Xinhua.
A torch relay will be held in Germany until the opening ceremony. More than 7,000 athletes from over 190 countries and regions will compete in 26 summer sports, according to a press release from Special Olympics Hellas which organized Wednesday’s event.
“Our goal is to get as many people with disabilities out of their homes as possible, offering them and their families a new life with colours, joy and optimism,” said Dionisis Kodelas, president of Special Olympics Hellas while addressing the event.
Founded in 1968, the Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement which changes the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, the speakers said.
The Special Olympics World Games is the world’s largest inclusive sports event, aiming to achieve greater recognition and social participation of people with intellectual disabilities in society, they explained.
“Our athletes need to be seen and heard around the world and this is exactly what the Flame of Hope represents,” said Sven Albrecht, CEO of Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023.
“A world of inclusion is our destiny. The Special Olympics athletes invite all of us to ignite the flame in our minds, in our actions, in our thoughts,” David Evangelista, regional president and managing director, Europe Eurasia Special Olympics, added.