CULTURE

2011 World Special Olympics Athens signing ceremony

Thursday was a special day for Greece and a special day for the «Olympic idea.» In an official ceremony at the Athens Concert Hall, Greece signed on to host a major sporting and cultural event of global importance, the 2011 World Special Olympics. It is a great honor that also carries great responsibility. Along with the smiles yesterday, there were also tears of emotion amid the music, applause and the flash of cameras. Above all, there were the children of the Special Olympics who were there as protagonists, not merely spectators. In the concert hall which has seen some of the world’s leading soloists, young Olga Orfanou sat and played next to composer Stefanos Korkolis, sending out the message of the day. The business of the day was performed jointly by Deputy Culture Minister Yiannis Ioannidis, who is responsible for sports issues, and World Special Olympics Athens 2011 Organizing Committee President Yianna Despotopoulou signed for the Greek side, while World Special Olympics Committee Vice President Lee Todd signed for the WSO committee. The ceremony took place in the presence of Greek President Karolos Papoulias. Among those in attendance was US Ambassador to Athens Daniel V. Speckhard. At the same event, 13 Greek journalists were named goodwill ambassadors by Special Oympics Hellas. Eleni Bistika, the columnist of Helbi’s People, is honored to be among the 13.