- 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games
The 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games were hosted in
Ireland, with participants staying in various host towns around the island in the lead up to the games before moving to Dublinfor the events. Events were held from 21 June- 29 June, 2003at many venues including Morton Stadium, the Royal Dublin Societyin Ballsbridge and the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin. Croke Park Gaelic games stadium, in Dublinserved as the central stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies, even though no competitions took place there. Belfastwas the venue for roller skatingevents (at the Kings Hall), as well as the Special Olympics Scientific Symposium (held from 19- 20 June).
Host town programme
177 towns, cities and villages and the
Aran Islandshosted national delegations in the run up to the games. Each town ran programmes to educate the local community about the customs of the country they would host and provided facilities for the teams to acclimatise. Newbridge, County Kildare, host to the Japandelegation [http://www.2003worldgames.com/en/default.asp?page=hos_bac_01 won the award for best host town] .
30,000 volunteer officials and support staff assisted in the running of the games, including 900 staff of the
Bank of Irelandwho coordinated the host town programme and 800 members of the Irish Defence Forceswho maintained the radio communication network, and provided support for bridge building, security duties, VIP drivers, standard bearers for ceremonial events and emergency medical teams. 165 volunteers from the then 15 countries of the EU took part in a European Volunteer Project (EVS), the first ever to be organized in event-related mode. The volunteers are commemorated by having their names on a series of plaques situated in Dublin Castle, just outside the Chester Beatty Library.
The 2003 World Games were the first to be held outside of the
United States. Approximately 7000 athletes from 150 countries competed in the games in 18 official disciplines, and three exhibition sports. The participants from Kosovowere the region's first team at an international sporting event. A 12-member team from Iraqreceived special permission to attend the games, despite ongoing war in their home nation.
The opening ceremony was held in
Croke Parkfeatured an array of stars and was hosted by Patrick Kielty. The band U2were a major feature, and Nelson Mandelaofficially opened the games. Other performances included The Corrsand the largest Riverdancetroupe ever assembled on one stage. 75,000 athletes and spectators were in attendance at the opening ceremonies. Irish and international celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzeneggerand Jon Bon Joviwalked with the athletes, with Muhammad Alias a special guest and Manchester United and Republic of Ireland football player Roy Keanetaking the athletes oath with one of the Special Olympians.
The Games Flame was lit at the culmination of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which more than 2,000 members of
An Garda Síochána(Irish Police) and the Police Service of Northern Irelandtook part in. This was a series of relays carrying the Special Olympics Torch, the " Flame of Hope", from Europe to the Games' official opening.
The ceremony was officially opened by
President of Ireland Mary McAleeseand attended by Taoiseach(Prime Minister of Ireland) Bertie Ahern.
The 2003 games were the first to have their opening and closing schemes broadcast on live television, and
Radio Telefís Éireannprovided extensive coverage of the events through their 'Voice of the Games' radio station which replaced RTÉ Radio 1on Medium Wavefor the duration of the event. There was also a nightly television highlight programme.
Among the activities carried out during the Games were thorough medical checks on the athletes, some of whom had previously undiagnosed conditions uncovered, as some of the athletes came from countries with limited medical facilities or had difficulty communicating their symptoms.
newspaper, the Games Gazette was published for each day of the games.
Among the contributors to the Games was the
Irish Prison Service. Prisoners in Mountjoy Prison, Midlands Prison, Wheatfield Prisonand Arbour Hill Prisonwho constructed podiums and made flags, towels, signs, benches and other equipment.
The organising committee, which was formed in 1999 following the success of the bid, was chaired by
entrepreneur Denis O'Brien. The chief executive was Mary Davis.
Athletes and coaches such as
Lleyton Hewittand his coach Roger Rasheed( Tennis); Severiano Ballesteros, Sandy Lyleand Andrew Marshall( Golf), Mick O'Dwyer( Gaelic football) and Brian Kerr (Soccer) met and encouraged athletes at events during the games.
Athletics (track and field)
* Pitch & putt
* [http://www.2003worldgames.com/en/default1.asp 2003 World Games official website]
* [http://www.2003worldgames.com/en/default.asp?page=hos_lis_01 Host Town list]
* [http://www.ireland.com/sports/specialolympics/results/index.htm Special Olympics 2003 Results]
* [http://www.irishprisons.ie/newsItem.asp?newsID=18 Irish Prison Service release on their inmates work for the Special Olympics]
* [http://www.specialolympics.ie/en/ Special Olympics Ireland website]
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