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In Greece

Special Olympics Hellas was founded in 1987 as a non-profit, sports and educational association for the integration of Greeks with intellectual disabilities in the Global Movement of Special Olympics, offering them the opportunity to bring out their special abilities and show them to the global community, through their participation in international sports events. At the same time, they undertook the responsibility to inspire the Greek society and the state to respect the diversity of people with intellectual disability, their special needs and the belief that they are useful and equal members of this society.

Special Olympics Hellas is under the High Protection of His Excellency the President of the Greek Republic and under the Auspices of the Greek Parliament. It is an associate member of the Greek Olympic Committee and officially recognized by the Deputy Ministry of Culture (General Secretariat of Sport), as a Sporting Association.

The activities of Special Olympics Hellas today rely on volunteers.
The costs of organization and participation of athletes in competitions are covered by private donators and public bodies, while a respectable amount is covered by the State.

So far, Special Olympics Hellas offer participation opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities in twenty-four (24) Olympic-type sports:
Athletics, Swimming, Artistic Gymnastics and Rhythmic Gymnastics, Basketball, Tennis, Football, Volleyball, Equestrian, Table Tennis, Bowling, Canoe-Kayaking, Cycling, Weightlifting, Golf, Judo, Handball, Sailing, and four winter sports: Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Ice Skating and Snow Shoeing. From September to June each year, Special Olympics Hellas, in addition to training programs, organize Local, Regional, and Pan-Hellenic Games.

Greek Special Olympics athletes who have taken part in competitions, both in Greece and abroad, amount to about 12,000, are continuously involved in training, work hard throughout the year and demonstrate daily to Greek society and throughout the world that they fairly deserve equal opportunities with other Greeks, at all levels of social life.


Milestone Dates for Special Olympics Hellas:


The Founding Act of the Public Beneficial Athletic, Educational non Profit Association, titled Special Olympics International - Hellas (SPECIAL OLYMPICS INTERNATIONAL - HELLAS) was signed in 1987, while the official recognition was registered under the No. 397/1988 Verdict of the Court of Athens with Registration Number 16033.



Recognition of the Special Olympics in Greece:


1990: The S.A. President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. k. Karamanlis, sets the Special Olympics Organization under his auspices.


1990: The Hellenic Olympic Committee, with common agreement of the General Assembly approves the allocate of the Olympic mirror to the Special Olympics Hellas, for the Lighting of the “Flame of Hope”, which will take place at the Sacred Site of Pnyx.  


1991: Special Olympics Hellas are recognized by Sports Confederations of our Country which provide support in every large organization.    


1993: The Greek Olympic Committee, with unanimous decision, officially welcomes Special Olympics Hellas as an associate member.


1997: Special Olympics are officially recognized by the Secretariat General of Sports as an Athletic Association.


2001: The S.A. President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. K. Stephanopoulos, signs the Declaration of Support to the Special Olympics Organization.


2001: The President of the Hellenic Parliament Mr. Apostolos Kaklamanis awards to the Special Olympics Hellas the Gold Medal of the Greek Parliament, in a special Ceremony on the 21th of March 2001.


2002: The Greek Parliament sets Special Olympics Hellas under its Auspices.


2002:  The Athens Academy awards the Prize of Moral and Political Sciences at the Special Olympics Hellas.


2004: Under the World Basket Games in Rhodes, the FIBA Europe signs with Special Olympics Europe and Special Olympics Hellas the Cooperation Protocol with unlimited time period.


2004: Under the Special Olympics World Festival, held in Rhodes, the International Olympic Academy signs the Declaration of Recognition for the contribution of Special Olympics.


2005: The S.A. President of the of the Hellenic Republic Mr. karolos Papoulias announces his support to the Special Olympics Organization, under the Special Olympics Games “Ioannina 2005”.


2006: At the Special Olympics Events held under “Patra European Capital of Culture”, LEN (European Swimming Association) signs with Special Olympics Europe and Special Olympics Hellas the Cooperation Protocol with unlimited time period.


2006: Under the decision of Greek Government, Greece claims the Organizing and Hosting for the XIII Special Olympics World Games in 2011, chaired by the President of the Special Olympics Hellas.


2007: Special Olympics International Committee on June 5, 2007, entrusts to Athens the Organizing of the Special Olympics World Summer Games for the year 2011.


Major Special Olympics Sports Events in Greece:


  • Athens, 22-23 May 1991: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Athletics Games
  • Athens, 10-17 May 1992: Greek-Cyprian Special Olympics Games


  • Athens 8-15 May 1993: European Union Special Olympics Games


  • Athens, 19-26 May 1996: European Special Olympics Athletics & Swimming Games


  • Athens, 5-9 April 1998: European/Mediterranean Special Olympics Games (Athletics, Swimming, Basketball, Football, Table Tennis)
  • Athens, 26-31 March 2000: Special Olympics Millennium Games


  • Patra, 30 November – 2 December 2000: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Basketball Tournament


  • Kilkis, 18-20 May 2001: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Cycling Games


  • Athens, 19-23 April 2002: Games of three Continents (Athletics, Cycling, Football, Basketball, Bowling)
  • Xania, 28-30 March 2003: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Aquatics - Bowling Games


  • Rhodes, 14-22 May 2004: World Special Olympics Festival “Education through sports”


  • Ioannina, 26-30 May 2005: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Games (Bowling, Cycling, Football, Swimming)


  • Arta, 13-15 April 2006: European Special Olympics Football Week 5x5
  • Athens, 13-19 May 2007: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Games


  • Athens, 28 November 2007: European Special Olympics Football Week


  • Mesologgi, 13-15 April 2008: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Cycling Games


  • Athens, December 4, 2008: European Special Olympics Football Week
  • Thessaloniki, December 5, 2008: European Special Olympics Football Week


  • Athens, June 10, 2008: Special Olympics Athletics & Swimming Games


  • Chalkis, 26-27 March 2009: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Cycling Games


  • Patra, 3-5 April 2009: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Swimming Games
  • Thessaloniki, 28-30 May 2009: Pan-Hellenic Special Olympics Games (Football, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Badminton)


For more information please visit: www.specialolympicshellas.gr

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