Shanghai begins 100-day countdown

By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-25 07:34

SHANGHAI: Nearly two-dozen special activities took place in this city yesterday as part of the celebrations to mark the 100-day countdown to the Shanghai Special Olympics 2007.

The celebrations got underway with a 6.5-km fun run in which some 20,000 people took part. The youngest participant, snuggled in his father's arms, was only eight months old, while the oldest was 85. Some participants were mentally handicapped.

Art shows, a rummage sale, autograph-signing and donation ceremonies also marked the day.

"I came here to give my support to mentally handicapped people. They are just like you and me," said Wang Junxia, a former 5,000-m Olympic champion who lead the run.

"And they can compete and live just like anyone else. I would like to call on all sections of society to pay attention to these people."

Han Zheng, mayor of Shanghai and chairman of the organizing committee of the Special Olympics, said preparations for the event were well underway, and creating a proper atmosphere for the Games and mentally handicapped people in general was a priority.

"We are not building new venues, and we're not making a profit from the Games. Our goal is to get more people involved to create a civilized and harmonious environment for mentally handicapped people," Han said at the ceremony to mark the 100-day countdown.

The 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in Shanghai from October 2 to 11. More than 10,000 athletes and coaches and 20,000 family members from more than 160 countries and regions are expected to show up.

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