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Athens, Greece to Host 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games

5 June 2007

WASHINGTON, DC, 5 June 2007—Special Olympics International announced today that Athens, Greece, will be the host city for the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games. The decision came during today’s meeting of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors.

The 2011 World Summer Games are expected to draw more than 7,000 athletes from nearly 170 countries, as well as tens of thousands of volunteers, event officials, coaches, families, spectators and journalists from around the world. The Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens will be the largest sporting event in the world during 2011. The 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games will take place in Shanghai on 2-11 October.

The other finalist sites for the 2011 World Games were Cleveland, Ohio, and Rabat, Morocco.

“With so many outstanding cities in contention, it was a very difficult and close decision,” said Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver. “The bidding process was extremely rigorous and the final decision came after much consideration, but ultimately the Board concluded that Athens was the most appropriate city to host the next Special Olympics World Summer Games.”

The bidding and site review process took place over a period of 18 months and involved site visits by senior Special Olympics officials.

“Athens provides outstanding venues and demonstrates the knowledge, understanding and excitement around our athletes, the goals of the movement and the overall experience expected from a World Games event,” said Lee Todd, Special Olympics’ Chief of World Games and Competition.

Athens also will be the starting point for the 2007 Law Enforcement Torch Run, a biennial event held in honor of the Special Olympics World Games, in which law enforcement officers from around the world gather to carry the “Flame of Hope” to symbolize the courage of Special Olympics athletes and celebrate the diversity of the global movement, which includes 2.5 million athletes from 165 nations.

The torch will be lit on 29 June at a ceremony in Athens, Greece, that is in keeping with the ancient Olympic tradition of igniting the flame at the Acropolis using the rays of the sun. It will then be carried for the next three months by Special Olympic athletes and law enforcement personnel across five continents, stopping in Cairo, London, Hong Kong, Washington DC, Tokyo, Taipei, Macau, Seoul and Sydney, before arriving in China for the 2007 World Games, where it will ignite the giant Opening Ceremonies Cauldron.

“Athens has an ancient tradition of sports excellence and we know this great city will provide an outstanding global platform to showcase the courage, dedication and talents of the athletes of Special Olympics,” Shriver said. “We look forward to working closely with the organizing committee to create an event that will leave a lasting legacy for people with intellectual disabilities from around the world.”

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