ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, at a glorious event held at the Athens Concert Hall, it was made official that Athens, Greece, will host the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, which will take place 25 June through 4 July. Present for the event were H.E. Karolos Papoulias, President of the Hellenic Republic; H.E. Natasha Karamanlis, wife of H.E. Konstandinos Karamanlis, the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic; and members of the Greek government, Greek Parliament, 38 ambassadors to Greece, athletes and supporters of the Special Olympics movement. The World Games, which promise to be one of the world's largest multi-sport and humanitarian events that year, will unite 7,500 athletes from more than 170 countries. "I am here today for the most symbolic moral, social and humanitarian content," said H.E. Karolos Papoulias, President of the Hellenic Republic. "Special Olympics come to remind us to respect and will bring an event of international brotherhood and solidarity." "Greece, you are the world leader in sports that celebrate and unite the human race," shared Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver in a videotape message shown during the ceremony. "And through these World Games, you will lead the world in showing how sports bring justice, how sports build acceptance, how sports foster inclusion and how sports - the sports of Special Olympics - will change the world." Special Olympics Chief of World Games Lee Todd and Special Olympics International Board Director and athlete Stacey Johnston together signed the 2011 World Games Memorandum of Agreement with Yiannis Ioannidis, Deputy Minister of Culture Responsible for Sports, 2011 World Games Organizing Committee President Joanna Despotopoulou, and 2011 World Games Board Member and Special Olympics Hellas athlete Nadia Lianou. "When I was a child, my mother used to say that sometimes our dreams come true," said Lianou at the event. "At last, my dream came true. The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games are coming to Greece." The 2011 World Games logo was also unveiled at the event. Designed by Theodora Mantzari, the logo of the 2011 World Games is a radiant sun, the source of life that underlines the excellence and power of the athletes who take part in the Games. Excellence is depicted in the olive branch and power of the spiral form in the center of the sun. The colors reflect the Greek landscape and project emotions: red for life, orange for optimism, blue for determination, light blue for freedom, and green for hope. Thirteen Goodwill Ambassadors were announced who will spearhead communication of the messages of solidarity, respect and acceptance that the 2011 World Games represent. The ambassadors all represent Greek media outlets and each individual was presented with a medal and papyrus certificate. The ceremony was followed by a lunch at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel V. Speckhard and a dinner hosted by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and 2011 Games Organizing Committee member Marianna Vardinoyianni. Athens was selected as the host of the 2011 World Summer Games by the Special Olympics International Board of Directors in June 2007. On 11 October 2007, representatives of the 2011 Games Organizing Committee were handed the Special Olympics flag during the Closing Ceremony of the 2007 World Summer Games, which were hosted by Shanghai, China. This symbolic act signified Athens, Greece, as the next hosts of the World Summer Games. "Major factors in selecting Athens as the site of the 2011 World Games were the magnificent city and its people, the spectacular Olympic venues and their proven track record in hosting international events," said Todd. "Special Olympics Hellas, celebrating its 21st anniversary today, their strong Program and its supporters were also factors in our selection." Greek National Television (ERT) covered the event and will share footage through the European Broadcast Union (EBU). About Special Olympics Special Olympics is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to 2.5 million adults and children with intellectual disabilities across 170 countries. The Special Olympics movement offers one of the world's greatest platforms for acceptance and inclusion for all people--regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or cultural differences. Corporate sponsors of Special Olympics include: adidas, Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, DHL, Mattel, Inc. and Mattel Children's Foundation, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Find out how to be a fan at www.specialolympics.org.
SOURCE Special Olympics