The moment has come: The Special Olympics Flame of Hope™ was lit by a high priestess in Athens, Greece, in a solemn ceremony at the historic temple Zappeion Megaron. The flame will now be sent on its journey before arriving at the Opening Ceremony at Olympiastadion on 17 June.
The Flame of Hope™ is one of the most important symbols of the Games and stands above all for peace, unity and hope. Before the official start, the flame is traditionally lit in a colorful ceremony in Athens, and this is also the case for the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023.
After the ceremonial ignition in the temple Zappeion Megaron, the "Flame of Hope" was presented by the Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the German Ambassador Dr. Ernst Reichel and many other participants of the Special Olympics movement. Ernst Reichel and many other participants of the Special Olympics movement handed over the "Flame of Hope" to Sven Albrecht (CEO Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023), Mahmut Özdemir (Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and for Home Affairs) and Dr. Nicola Böcker-Giannini (State Secretary for Sport at the Senate Department for the Internal Affairs and 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.
Natascha Wermelskirchen, first German torch runner, Special Olympics footballer and #Berlin2023 participant, said: "What a day. To be one of the first torch runners in Athens makes me very proud. I'm looking forward to bringing the flame to Berlin for the Games."
Torch run as a symbol for solidarity
And the journey continues as the Flame of Hope™ will now be brought to Germany to the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, touching German soil in Berlin already tomorrow.
On top, the so-called "Inclusion Day powered by Special Olympics" will take place on 13 June as an additional program to the traditional LETR® Final Leg. Host towns all over Germany have the opportunity to draw attention to the Special Olympics movement with their own torch run.
As a grand finale, the Flame of Hope™ will arrive at the Opening Ceremony in the Olympiastadion Berlin on 17 June.
All information and the exact routes are available here:
Tickets for the opening ceremony can be bought here: