"Despite the crisis, Greece is present," Greek prime minister George Papandreou said, adding that the country welcomes the efforts of the young people.
"We have a common Odyssey, but with a clear destination, which is a better and juster society," the premier said, welcoming in parliament the 250 members of the Session for Young Participants.
The special session was also addressed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is in Athens for the Special Olympics. "In these Games, everyone is an a priori winner in self-esteem and self-confidence," he said.
Parliament president Philippos Petsalnikos welcomed the guests "to the land that gave birth to democracy and the Olympic Ideal".
The special session was also attended by Special Olympics Hellas organising committee president Joanna Despotopoulou, Special Olympics chairman and CEO Dr. Timothy Shriver, and former prime ministers.