ATHENS: The Greek Organizing Committee of the Athens 2011 Special Olympics officially launched on Tuesday the Games' mascot in a press conference held at Zappeion, close to the Panathinaikon Stadium, where the modern Olympic Games were revived in 1896.
Apollon, the mascot for Athens 2011 Special Olympics is unveiled by the organizing committee at a press conference held at Zappeion Tuesday. [Xinhua]
A radiant sun named Apollon after the God of Sun in ancient Greek mythology invites all the citizens of the world to join the 'Wonderful Winning World' as is the title of the music theme of the 13th Special Olympics World Summer Games.
"I am in" is the official slogan of the Games which will be held from June 25 to July 4, 2011 with the participation of 7,500 athletes from 185 countries and regions with intellectual disabilities and special abilities.
As for the emblem of the Games which was also presented on Tuesday, it consists of the International Symbol of the Special Olympics, the Logotype "World Summer Games ATHENS 2011" and the sun.
The sun was chosen as "a source of life that underlines the excellence and power of the athlete who takes part in the Games," said Joanna Despotopoulou, President of the Greek Organizing Committee of the 2011 Athens Special Olympics.
"Excellence is depicted in the olive branch and power in the spiral form in the center of the sun. The colors reflect the Greek landscape and project emotions like passion for life in the warm red, optimism in the orange, determination in the blue, freedom in the light blue and hope in the green," he added.
Expressing admiration for the previous Special Olympics hosted in Shanghai two years ago the head of GOC remembered that "we took the Games flag from our Chinese friends in a spectacular closing ceremony."
With a limited budget of 69 million euros, Athens and Greece hope to do the best to welcome in a year and a half the athletes, their coaches, their families and friends, celebrities and world leaders who support the causes of the Special Olympics.
On behalf of the Greek government, Panos Beglitis, National Defence Alternate Minister, expressed his determination that "Athens and Greece will host most successful Games for one more time, as it happened five years ago when our country hosted the Olympic Games."
"The important thing to keep in mind is that Special Olympics is not just about people with special needs and abilities, but about all of us, it's about opening the eyes of our society" said Peter Wheeler, second vice president of the Special Olympics International Committee.