The Special Olympics World Summer Games ATHENS 2011 came to a close last night after ten days of competition among nearly 7000 athletes from almost 180 countries.
Greece bid farewell to the athletes who united the Greek capital and thanked them for all they did to provide hope and inspiration.
A total of 12,000 medals were awarded to the athletes in 22 sports.
The athletes will return to their home countries starting July 5 where they will be celebrated by their governments, communities, schools and families.
Greece’s Pop Band Onirama opened the show with the closing ceremony’s theme song
Well known Singer-Songwriter-Performer S. Kraounakis
Extinguishing of the Olympic flame… moving presentation
The World Games Closing Ceremony at the historic Kallimarmaron Panthinaikon Olympic Stadium in Athens was a spectacular celebration. As the ceremony began with the parade of athletes and then a live display of sand painting took place (Check video) as was a live puppet show from Greece’s number one character in shadow-puppet theater Karagiozis (Check video.) There are several legends as well as studies surrounding Karagiozis’s arrival and subsequent popularity in Greece. Some stories say that Greek merchants brought the art from China and others say that it was a Greek who created the “legend” during Ottoman rule for the entertainment of the sultan. Yet others believe that it originated from real events involving two masonry workers named Karagöz and Haci Ivat working in the construction of a mosque in the city of Bursa, Turkey in early 14th century.
Special display of live Sand Painting was also presented
G. Negka is one of Greece’s leading folk artists. She gave a performance with Greek traditional music from the central and southern area of Greece with championship performances by dancers
From traditional mainland music we also enjoyed a live performance from Aeriko and Erotokritos as well as an electric performance of traditional dance from the island of Crete
Special performance from Greece’s number one puppet character Karagiozis was also displayed while singer Glykeria sang his motto song from songwriter performer D. Savvopoulos
Following the parade, the Greek entertainment scene took front stage and a crows of artists and bands such as ONIRAMA took over, as did other artists such as George Kokonidis, Dimitris Kokonidis, Dionisis Fratzis, Kostas Karakatsanis, Christos Tresintsis, BATALA leaders (Stefanos Kontaratos, Stavros Kontaratos), ΑΕRIKA (Kostas Antaras, Yiannis Argiropoulos, Panagiotis Paglatzis, Giorgos Ntaftis, Kostas Giannoulakis, Eirini Paraskevopoulou, Liza Louka, Roubini Andreadou, Ioannis Limakis), STAMATIS KRAOUNAKIS BAND (Stamatis Kraounakis, Sofia Kakoulidou, Anna Laki, Aris Vlahos, Kostas Mpaltazakis), Alkistis Protopsalti, Dimitris Lignadis, Mirtó Papatanasi, Kseniia Simonova Giota Negka, Petroloukas Chalkias.
Mironas Stratis and his band also gave a live performance
A walk through the centuries included a song from singer Natassa Bofiliou (Sfixe Me – Hug me)
Performances were also given by Natassa Mpofiliou (as seen above), Glykeria, the Karagiozis performers (Athos Danellis, Constantinos Koutsoumplis, Nikolaos Loukakis, Achilleas Tsigas, Konstantinos Vamvakaris, Anastasios Dourmousoglos, Nikolaos Tzivelekis, Nikolaos Markis, Dimitrios Athanassiou, Nektarios Athanassiou, Aggelos Karatzas, Aris Karatzas – see video), Elektra Nikolouzou,, Mironas Stratis and his band, etc.
Alkistis Protopsalti – I Koupasti (Special Olympics 2011 – Closing Ceremony)
Eleonora Zouganeli – Athens Special Olympics Closing Ceremony
“We hope you will never forget the faces of these athletes who teach us the way to our own personal victories,” Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver said, addressing the event which started with a parade of about 300 athletes, representing almost four million Special Olympics athletes with mental disabilities worldwide.
“We will never forget you,” replied a British athlete on behalf of all Special Olympics champions who competed in Athens.
Shriver also praised the 25,000 volunteers who supported the Games, “showing the way to a better future” to debt-ridden Greece in times of difficulty, as well as the world.
“Greece proved that at the cradle of Olympism, there is always optimism and humanity. The smiles of these athletes are a motivation so that starting from tomorrow we will continue efforts for a new world with open doors and hearts,” added Athens 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games Organizing President Joanna Despotopoulou, wishing best success to South Korea.
Spectacular performance from Heather Small in the song “Proud” – What a voice!
“When the world seems grey and small…when you are afraid to be different, listen to your heart and everything will miraculously change, everything is in our minds. When everything around you collapses, I will be there for you,” sang Greek pop group Onirama, underlining the lyrics of a song they wrote for the Athens Games, launching the party which focused on the strength of children throughout history.
Following the declaration of closing the Athens Games by City of Athens Mayor Yorgos Kaminis, the Special Olympics flag was lowered and passed over to the 2013 World Winter Games PyeongChang Organizing Committee by him and Despotopoulou, as South Korean artists took the floor for a show of folk and pop music and dance.
Special Olympics ATHENS 2011 Closing Ceremony 2013 South Korean Performances
No. Girls Pop band in Asia, the Wonder Girls also gave a special performance
The number one girl pop music group in Asia, the South Korean “Wonder Girls”, gave to Athens and the world a preview of the next Games, after the Flame of Hope which burnt for the Athens Special Olympics was extinguished and delegations, among them a 137-member Chinese delegation, prepared to return home.
Competing in the largest sports event of 2011, they showed that since its birth in 1968 the Special Olympics movement has come a long way, changing lives through sport and promoting acceptance for people with mental disabilities worldwide.
At the end of the show Athens Special Olympics viewers enjoyed a grand display of fireworks
At the end of the night, guests got a real treat as a big party was staged by Playman
At the end a huge party was staged with PLAYMEN, Lefteris Xenakis, Pavlos Manolis and Heather Small (check video above for her performance), etc, and guests as well as viewers from all over the world got to enjoy unique house beats and other such dance music.