A Heart-Warming Closing Cermony
A Heart-Warming Closing Cermony
Saturday 20 September, 2014 — A spectacular Closing Ceremony farewell show reunited 2000 athletes from the 58 delegations for the very last time. Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz attended the spectacle and were part of the 14.000 spectators in Sportpaleis, Antwerp. Also amongst them were the families of the athletes, coaches, volunteers and sponsors. For the organizers, these fantastic European Games turned out to be a source of immense satisfaction.
As expected, the closure show was an amazing and absolutely sparkling farewell party. Performances by top Belgium music stars Natalia, Kate Ryan, Sandra Kim, Axel Hirsoux, and Stijn Meuris helped to create a fantastic atmosphere. But the true stars were the athletes from 58 countries who gave the very best of themselves in 10 different sport disciplines during the past week. Today, Princess Astrid declared “closed” the Games of the Heart.
Catalina Daniels, CEO of the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games said “Thanks” to all the people who have supported “The Games of the Heart”; “I am proud to see that the Games were a true success. We were able to offer fantastic Games to the 2000 athletes and the people around them, and we have seen unforgettable and captivating scenes. We are grateful to the 6000 volunteers who did their utmost for the organization, and we say thanks to the celebrities who came to see the Games to encourage the athletes. We are extremely pleased with the fact that we could open the debate around the inclusion of people with an intellectual disability. We are definitely on our way to break the taboos. The atmosphere could not have been better, and we are happy to see that the athletes go home with a smile on their faces.
Speaking on stage, Bart De Wever, Mayor of Antwerp: “This is not a one-time event. For the future we will continue to concentrate on the full integration of people with an intellectual disability, and this event has proven that our city is capable of organizing big events like the “European Games”.
All the people who have visited the Games have remarked on the excellent organisation of the Games, with a particular focus on safety. Consequently, no serious incidents occured. 6,000 volunteers have distributed 45,000 lunch boxes, and over the past seven days shuttle busses have covered 38,500 kilometres transporting people to and from the different venues.
1,400 athletes presented themselves at the Healthy Athletes Village for a free screening by medical professionals and volunteers in 7 different disciplines. Research results presenting recommendations on the integration of people with an intellectual disability in the labour market were published during the Special Olympics Symposium attended by 230 people.
Speaking on the number of spectators who attended the competitions Eddy Beckers, National Director of Special Olympics Belgium says; “It is hard to give an exact figure, since the athletes were performing in 5 different venues, and the entrance was free everywhere. But we noted an increasing interest every day. The Flame has stopped burning, but it remains burning in our hearts, and we invite everyone to stay involved and attend the National Special Olympic Games from May 13 until May 16, 2015. All support will be appreciated”.
The Games continue on an international level. Next summer, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games take place in Los Angeles, California, USA from July 25 until August 2. 7000 athletes with an intellectual disability will participate and 500.000 spectators will attend the Games.
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