PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – A ceremony with lights, flags and even a dance to the beat of “Gangnam Style” before more than 4,000 people kicked off the 2013 Special Olympics World Games on Tuesday in this South Korean mountain town.
With the official theme of “Together We Can,” the event bringing together 2,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities from all over the world got under way with the aim of “fostering sports and the integration of special people,” Park Ming-wah, the spokesman for the Games’ organizing committee, told Efe.
Present for the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, some 180 kilometers (112 miles) east of Seoul, was Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who on Monday arrived in South Korea on a five-day visit.
“Today, we celebrate not only the supremacy of the human spirit but also the supremacy of human solidarity,” said Suu Kyi in a brief address.
Pyeongchang 2013 includes sporting events in eight areas: Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, showshoeing, figure skating, short-track speed skating, ice hockey and floorball.
Athletes will begin competing on Wednesday with the aim of making it into the Jan. 31-Feb. 5 finals.
This year marks the 22nd edition of the Special Olympics World Games, which have been held every two years since 1968 alternating the summer and winter events, most of them in the United States.
South Korea has put a great deal of effort over the past few years into modernizing the Pyeongchang sports facilities with the result that in July 2011 the city was selected as the seat of the 2018 Winter Olympics. EFE