Athens Will Host the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games

    Officials Sign the Memorandum of Agreement and Unveil 2011 World Games

    ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, at a glorious
event held at the Athens Concert Hall, it was made official that Athens,
Greece, will host the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, which will
take place 25 June through 4 July. Present for the event were H.E. Karolos
Papoulias, President of the Hellenic Republic; H.E. Natasha Karamanlis, wife
of H.E. Konstandinos Karamanlis, the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic;
and members of the Greek government, Greek Parliament, 38 ambassadors to
Greece, athletes and supporters of the Special Olympics movement.  The World
Games, which promise to be one of the world's largest multi-sport and
humanitarian events that year, will unite 7,500 athletes from more than 170

    "I am here today for the most symbolic moral, social and humanitarian
content," said H.E. Karolos Papoulias, President of the Hellenic Republic. 
"Special Olympics come to remind us to respect and will bring an event of
international brotherhood and solidarity."

    "Greece, you are the world leader in sports that celebrate and unite the
human race," shared Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver in a videotape
message shown during the ceremony. "And through these World Games, you will
lead the world in showing how sports bring justice, how sports build
acceptance, how sports foster inclusion and how sports - the sports of Special
Olympics - will change the world."

    Special Olympics Chief of World Games Lee Todd and Special Olympics
International Board Director and athlete Stacey Johnston together signed the
2011 World Games Memorandum of Agreement with Yiannis Ioannidis, Deputy
Minister of Culture Responsible for Sports, 2011 World Games Organizing
Committee President Joanna Despotopoulou, and 2011 World Games Board Member
and Special Olympics Hellas athlete Nadia Lianou.

    "When I was a child, my mother used to say that sometimes our dreams come
true," said Lianou at the event. "At last, my dream came true. The 2011
Special Olympics World Summer Games are coming to Greece."

    The 2011 World Games logo was also unveiled at the event. Designed by
Theodora Mantzari, the logo of the 2011 World Games is a radiant sun, the
source of life that underlines the excellence and power of the athletes who
take part in the Games. Excellence is depicted in the olive branch and power
of the spiral form in the center of the sun. The colors reflect the Greek
landscape and project emotions: red for life, orange for optimism, blue for
determination, light blue for freedom, and green for hope.

    Thirteen Goodwill Ambassadors were announced who will spearhead
communication of the messages of solidarity, respect and acceptance that the
2011 World Games represent. The ambassadors all represent Greek media outlets
and each individual was presented with a medal and papyrus certificate.

    The ceremony was followed by a lunch at the residence of U.S. Ambassador
to Greece Daniel V. Speckhard and a dinner hosted by UNESCO Goodwill
Ambassador and 2011 Games Organizing Committee member Marianna Vardinoyianni.

    Athens was selected as the host of the 2011 World Summer Games by the
Special Olympics International Board of Directors in June 2007. On 11 October
2007, representatives of the 2011 Games Organizing Committee were handed the
Special Olympics flag during the Closing Ceremony of the 2007 World Summer
Games, which were hosted by Shanghai, China. This symbolic act signified
Athens, Greece, as the next hosts of the World Summer Games.

    "Major factors in selecting Athens as the site of the 2011 World Games
were the magnificent city and its people, the spectacular Olympic venues and
their proven track record in hosting international events," said Todd.
"Special Olympics Hellas, celebrating its 21st anniversary today, their strong
Program and its supporters were also factors in our selection."

    Greek National Television (ERT) covered the event and will share footage
through the European Broadcast Union (EBU).

    About Special Olympics
    Special Olympics is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to
empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically
fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and
competition.  Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics
provides year-round sports training and competition to 2.5 million adults and
children with intellectual disabilities across 170 countries.  The Special
Olympics movement offers one of the world's greatest platforms for acceptance
and inclusion for all people--regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or
cultural differences.  Corporate sponsors of Special Olympics include: adidas,
Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, DHL, Mattel, Inc. and Mattel
Children's Foundation, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.  Find out how
to be a fan at

For further information:

For further information: Kirsten Seckler of Special Olympics, 
+1-202-715-1147, Web Site:

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