SEOUL- A large crowd gathered despite the cold weather on January 23 to see the the Olympic torch arriving. Along the ceremony attendees include Chairwoman Na Kyung-won of the Organizing Committee for the games, Minister Choe Kwang-shik of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and Commissioner General Kim Ki-Yong of the Korean National Police Agency.
At a stage built in front of the statue of King Sejong the Great, Poppin Hyun-jun, one of PR ambassadors of the Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013, gave a special dance performance, which was followed by a group dance of “Gangnam Style” by the torchbearers. The official ceremony included a welcoming address by Chairwoman Na and a celebratory speech by the Minister Choe, as well as speeches from members of the Final Leg Team of the Special Olympics and a singing performance by Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
Chairwoman Na urged everyone to take interest in the Special Olympics in Pyeongchang and keep a close eye on the upcoming events so that they can change the world.
The torch was lit on January 18 at Zappeion Hall in Athens, then taken on a relay route through the city. The flame then arrived at Incheon International Airport on January 21. The two torchbearers, Korean athlete Ahn Jin-yong and Korean National Police Agency Commissioner General Kim Ki-Yong, began the relay after receiving the torch from Chairwoman Na.
Unlike the Olympics or Asian Games, the torchbearers for the Special Olympics must be either athletes with intellectual disabilities or police officers, according to the Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013.
For this reason, the Law Enforcement Torch Run chooses police officers from its member countries around the globe to send to the Special Olympics host country to carry and protect the torch from the beginning of the lighting ceremony to the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics. The event was attended by more than 130 police officers of the Final Leg team of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, including ten Korean police officers and ten Special Olympics athletes, who accompanied the torch relay runners afterwards.
The torch relay will follow two courses through a total of 39 regions including Korean cities and counties, for eight days. Various cultural events and a parade will be held nationwide during the torch run. The flame will then arrive in Pyeongchang on January 28 and light up the eight-day international winter sporting event scheduled from January 29 to February 5.
The Special Olympics World Winter Games takes place in Pyeongchang and Gangneung in Gangwon-do (Gangwon Province), Korea.
Under the slogan "Together we can" which symbolizes challenge and encourages people with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports, more than 2,200 athletes from more than 110 countries will participate in the eight-day international winter sports event.
The Special Olympics World Games are an international sporting event held every two years, alternating between summer and winter games to provide sports training opportunities for mentally disabled athletes around the world in order to enhance their athleticism and social adaptation capabilities.