WASHINGTON, D.C. – What will be the world’s most inspiring sporting event of 2013, to be held in just two weeks?
The week-long 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games, which kicks off on 29 January in PyeongChang in the Republic of Korea, will welcome an array of dignitaries, sports legends, celebrities and corporate leaders to witness the inspiring power of sports to unite people with and without intellectual disabilities.
Notable names from across the world that are scheduled to attend include sports legends Bart Conner, Toby Dawson, Donna DeVarona, Dan Jansen, Michelle Kwan, Yuna Kim, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Apolo Ohno, Sam Perkins, Karl Schranz, Trixie Schuba, Hannah Teter, Michael Tritscher and Yang Yang.
Other dignitaries, celebrities and corporate leaders to attend include: H.E. Mrs. Joyce Banda, President, Republic of Malawi; Mrs. Cherie Blair, Asian University for Women, Chancellor; Nobel Peace Prize-winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Member of Parliament, Myanmar; Mr. Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, the Coca-Cola Company; Yang Lan, Chairperson, Sun Culture Foundation; Cindy McCain, Chairperson, Hensley & Co.; Mr. Petar Stoyanov, Republic of Bulgaria, Former President, the Center for Global Dialogue and Cooperation, President; Hon. Antonio Villaraigosa, City of Los Angeles, Mayor; Dr. Tam Wing-Kun, President, Lions Clubs International; Carolyn Woo, CEO and President, Catholic Relief Services and actress Zhang Ziyi.
Those will be just a few of the thousands of people who will come together as the Republic of Korea welcomes more than 2300 Special Olympics athletes from more than 110 nations – including countries such as Afghanistan, Kenya and Syria – to compete in seven Olympic-type winter sports as part of the Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, the same site as the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games celebrations officially kick-off later this week with the official torch lighting on 17 January in Athens, Greece, which will travel to the Republic of Korea as part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, leading up to the Games Opening Ceremony on 29 January, a first-ever Global Development Summit on 30 January addressing “Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities”, sports competitions on-going for the week of 30 January – 5 February, concluding with Closing Ceremony on 5 February.
Every two years, thousands of Special Olympics athletes worldwide come together to showcase their athletic skills and celebrate the spirit of Special Olympics in alternating World Summer and World Winter Games. The first Special Olympics World Games took place in 1968 and since then have evolved into a world-class sporting event, attracting a wide range of sponsors, supporters and media. Special Olympics World Games bring public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities and are a capstone to more than 50,000 competitions that happen at all levels of Special Olympics each year.