The “Athens 2011” Special Olympics torch on Thursday was kindled by sunrays concentrated by a concave mirror at the Pnyx Hill, the meeting place of the Athenian assembly during antiquity.
Acting in the role of an ancient high priestess, Iliana Symeonidou, a Special Olympics athlete herself, passed on the torch to Special Olympics organising committee president Joanna Despotopoulou, who handed it to two Greek athletes, Giorgos Papadopoulos and Georgia Gerakari, to begin a relay through the city. The latter concluded at the Zappeion Hall in downtown Athens, where a special ceremony was held. (ANA-MPA)
On Friday, the torch will begin its long journey across the world carried by runners before returning to Athens’ Panathinaiko Stadium on June 25 for the official opening of the Games. Roughly 15,000 athletes, thousands of coaches and visitors from 185 countries are expected in the Greek capital for the games that will end on July 4.
Present in the ceremony was Special Olympics International Chairman Dr. Timothy Shriver and government representatives.
Alternate Culture and Tourism Minister Tilemahos Hitiris underlined that Greece is experiencing tough economic circumstances but has proved that it can be trustworthy when it comes to the obligations it has undertaken toward the international community.