Supporting the Special Olympics

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Supporting the Special Olympics

The 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games is now being held in Pyeongchang and Gangneung, Gangwon, for a week through Feb. 5. After the magnificent opening ceremony yesterday, more than 3,300 athletes will compete in the world’s top sports festival for those with intellectual disabilities.

They will be joined by 11,000 family members and volunteers from around the world. We hope the largest-ever Special Olympics provides a precious opportunity to promote understanding of those with intellectual disabilities and elevate the level of their sports competitions.

There is no athlete, family or delegate who has not struggled, not to mention Team Korea, with its 247 athletes. To those with mental disabilities, sports can be frightening. The event, however, will help them be rid of fear and nurture their hope and confidence.

These Games differ from other sporting events. Those who finish last get more applause from spectators, and in the emotional sports drama, audience members may see athletes wait for their team members to arrive before crossing the finish line. The organizing committee not only awards gold, silver and bronze medals to the first, second and third players, but also attaches ribbons to the chests of athletes who come in fourth to eighth place based on the philosophy that more opportunities should be given to more athletes.

These efforts are in line with the event’s motto “Together We Can.”

In the same spirit, coaches encourage those with disabilities to do their best regardless of their limitations, and the athletes train hard, driven by devotion and support from their families.

Together, these factors undoubtedly make the sporting event one of the most majestic venues for human victory.

Na Kyung-won, chairwoman of the Special Olympics World Winter Games organizing committee, said, “We need more active participation from people to turn the event into a festival for all.”

As a matter of fact, you can hardly find another sports event where everyone can share such exciting and emotional moments.

The cost of admission is low, too. The special pass, which allows access to all of the games, costs only 10,000 won ($9.20).

It might be a good idea to take a two-day trip to Pyeongchang and Gangneung together with your family on the weekend. Nothing could show our concern and compassion more than visits to the Games by us all.

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