With the signing of the Declaration of Cooperation by World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis and “Special Olympics Organizing Committee – Athens 2011” President Gianna Despotopoulou cooperation between the two organizations was formally sealed aimed at ensuring the support of the Greeks Abroad to the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.
“Special Olympics Organizing Committee – Athens 2011” and Special Olympics Hellas President Gianna Despotopoulou briefed the representatives of the Greek Diaspora on the Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held for the first time in Greece in 2011, in a meeting held in the presence of Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, responsible for Greeks Abroad, the SAE Presiding Board and the Coordinators of the SAE Youth Networks.
“We are very happy for our cooperation with the Omogenia and we are certain that the undoubted sensitivity of the Diaspora Greeks will be evident in this great endeavor,” stressed Despotopoulou. “We are waiting all of you in Athens to share and celebrate a special event for Greece; the effort of people with intellectual disabilities to claim the joy of sports and the right to dignity and respect. All of us are aware that Special Olympics are not just an opportunity to give joy to certain different people. It is a lesson of life for all of us who can contribute to raising public awareness for equal opportunities to Special Olympics’ athletes. In their continuous struggle, to which we can contribute individually based on our position and according to our powers, we can create an environment that respects human dignity. We can also share with their friends, parents, volunteers and supporters the joy that sports can offer while respecting the individuality of human beings.”
On his part, SAE President Stefanos Tamvakis stressed that the “Greeks abroad are warm supporters of volunteerism. Our sensitivity, particularly as regards people with disabilities, could only be expressed by supporting this effort that concerns us all. In the Athens Olympic Games we had worked with consistency, enthusiasm and a measure of responsibility. We will do the same in the Special Olympics as well and we will support and promote the games in the countries where we live. Hellenism worldwide and SAE will be present in every initiative undertaken for the promotion of our homeland.”
Deputy FM Kassimis, referring to the great importance these Special Games have for the country, stated characteristically: “I am certain that the Omogenia will support this effort. In the summer of 2011 we will all be present in Athens to watch the great effort of the athletes with intellectual disabilities, and witness the enthusiasm and recognition associated with sports.”
The Athens 2011 – Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held under the auspices of Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias and will attract the participation of 10,000 athletes and coaches, 3,000 referees and judges from more than 180 countries and programmes, 40,000 family members of athletes, 25,000 volunteers and thousands of reporters from all over the world. The sports competitions and all parallel events will have a great importance because they will leave behind a lasting legacy for Greece and the entire world through education, cultural and sports programmes directed at people with intellectual disabilities, as well as the young and the wider public.
Special Olympics’ athletes of all levels will compete in 22 Olympic-type sports to be held in the Olympic Games facilities in Athens while a number of separate events before and during the Games will give them the opportunity to know Greece and experience its hospitality, create an environment of joy for all participants and bring closer young people with or without intellectual disabilities, while strengthening youth participation in the international Special Olympics movement launched 40 years ago by Eunice Kennedy-Shriver.
The Athens 2011 – Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held on June 25 –July 4, 2011 will be the realization of a dream for the Special Olympics Hellas 11,000 Greek athletes who train hard for years in order to give their best in the Games.
The Organizing Committee President called on the representatives of the Omogenia to offer their warm and enthusiastic support to the endeavor.
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