PyeongChang, Republic of Korea - 29 January 2013: On the evening of 29 January in the snowy mountains of the Republic of Korea, thousands gathered in the Yongpyong Dome, not far from the Alpensia ski resort, to officially open the start of the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games and celebrate what is set to be an incredible week of competitions that will showcase the life-changing power of sport.
More than 100 delegations from around the world participated in the ceremonial parade of athletes in front of a capacity crowd, as they prepared for the Korean “Dream Chorus” themed ceremony which depicted a Korean-culturally inspired beautiful dream of humanity towards co-existence and harmony. Many notable sports and entertainment celebrities including Yuna Kim, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo and others joined in the celebration. Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye, who will become Korea's first female president, were both in attendance to welcome the more than 2,300 athletes from around the world to the Republic of Korea. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the U.N., provided video remarks saying that Special Olympics World Winter Games will advance dignity and opportunity of all. Live remarks were given by several others, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, MP, Chairperson, National League for Democracy, Burma (Myanmar), who walked on-stage hand-in-hand with Special Olympics athlete and global messenger Ariel Ary of Costa Rica; she proclaimed that "it is the spirit that overcomes" which rang true with all in attendance.
Protocol elements such as the torch lighting, reciting of the Special Olympics athlete oath, and official declaration of the Games opening all took place amidst an igloo and snowflake shaped stage depicted to represent PyeongChang, The three-hour Opening Ceremony was produced by internationally acclaimed director ByeongWoo, and provided a heartfelt welcome to thousands of athletes who have come to compete on the world stage.
Emphasizing the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games official theme ‘Together We Can’ the World Games, Special Olympics Chairman and CEO, Dr. Timothy Shriver, said to the crowd in attendance and to viewers all over the world: “We issue a challenge to the world tonight to hear the voices of people with intellectual disabilities and end fear and stigma. Together, we can end discrimination. Together, we can change the world. Together, we will."
The 2013 PyeongChang Special Olympics World Winter Games are being held from 29 January to 5 February, featuring seven categories of sports including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, speed skating, figure skating, floor hockey, and a demo sport floorball. The Games will demonstrate the unity of overcoming the differences of region, borders, political belief, age, race and religion. More information is available at the 2013 World Games official website: http://www.2013sopoc.org. Images of tonight’s ceremony are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/soi-photo-stream/collections/72157632547303646/
Mandy Murphy +82-10-6884-3462
Wendy Wu +82-10-5011-7861
Mingwah Park +82-10-5713-6059
# # #