The ‘Flame of Hope’ was lit on Wednesday and presented to officials and athletes of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 in two separate special events, one at Zappeion Hall and another in the grounds of the German School of Athens.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou was present at the torch-lighting ceremony that was held at Zappeion Hall, prior to the Flame’s arrival at the German School.
At Zappeion Hall, Sakellaropoulou and German Ambassador to Greece Ernst Reichel presented the flame to Sven Albrecht (CEO Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023), Mahmut Ozdemir (Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Ministry of the Interior for Home Affairs) and Dr. Nicola Bocker-Giannini (State Secretary for Sport at the German Senate Department for Internal Affairs & Sport).
They in turn presented the torch to Special Olympics athletes Vassiliki Katsoudi and Natascha Wermelskirchen, who, together with Berlin police officer Maja Seidel, started the first torch run through the streets of Athens to the German School of Athens, briefly stopping at 12 locations in Athens.
Addresses were delivered by Special Olympics Hellas president, Ambassador Dionyssios Kodellas, and Special Olympics regional president & managing director for Europe and Eurasia David Evangelista.
Special Olympics will be held in Berlin
The flame will travel from Athens to Berlin on Thursday. The opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games 2023 will be held at Berlin’s ‘Olympiastadion’ on June 17, while the games will be held through June 25.
The 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games will mark the first time that Germany has hosted the Special Olympics World Games.
There will be about 7,000 athletes and Unified partners from approximately 170 countries competing in 24 sports, with 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers.
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Greece also hosts the ceremony for the Olympic Flame which is lit every four years at Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were held.
This ceremony starts the Olympic torch relay, which formally ends with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The flame then continues to burn in the cauldron for the duration of the Games, until it is extinguished during the Olympic closing ceremony.
The Olympic Flame for the 2024 Paris Games will take to the seas from its birthplace in Greece, arriving aboard a three-masted tall ship in the French port of Marseille.