New Delhi [India], June 8 (ANI): Special Olympics Bharat on Thursday organised a torch run and a national send-off ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, for the Indian contingent that will be travelling for the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023 Berlin, Germany which will take place between June 17, 2023 and June 25, 2023.
India will be sending a contingent comprising 198 Athletes and Unified partners and 57 Coaches to participate across 16 Sports at the prestigious event, as per a press release from Special Olympics Bharat.
The ceremony was graced by Union Minister Anurag Thakur, Department of Youth Affairs and Sports and Department of Information and Broadcasting as the chief guest for the torch run, Union Minister Smriti Irani, Department of Women and Child Development and Department of Minority Affairs as the chief guest for the send-off ceremony, among other distinguished guests.
The event was divided into two parts -- 'The Flame of Hope' and 'The Send-Off Ceremony'. The Flame of Hope left New Delhi on May 26 and travelled across multiple cities. The torch returned to Haryana from where it was brought to the nation's capital, New Delhi, along with the Haryana athletes who will be travelling to Berlin along with Special Olympics Bharat. The Torch was received by the Guest of Honour, President, Indian Olympic Association, PT Usha and officials of Special Olympics Bharat. The Flame of Torch came to an end with a rousing speech from Hon'ble Union Minister Shri Anurag Thakur.
Anurag Thakur gave his best wishes to the athletes, saying, "I congratulate Dr Mallika Nadda and Special Olympics Bharat for their tremendous work over the years. Because of their efforts, we are able to send such a huge contingent of Indian athletes to Berlin. 198 Athletes, Unified partners and 57 Coaches who will participate across 16 Sports from 23 different states across India. I am confident these athletes will make the nation proud. We have seen development in sports over the past few years - in terms of infrastructure, in the growth of the athletes and the number of medals our athletes have been winning across major competitions. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Modi has increased the sports budget multifold over the past few years. He has started schemes like TOPS which is unearthing talent at the grassroots level. Hence we have won more medals than ever. And we will continue this feat at the Special Olympics World Games as well."In the second part of the ceremony, which saw Smriti Irani, the Union minister for Women and Child Development and Department of Minority Affairs as the Chief Guest, Bollywood singer and composer and Special Olympics Bharat Goodwill Ambassador Sonu Nigam, former India cricketer and Special Olympics Bharat Goodwill Ambassador Yuvraj Singh, and Stephan Grabherr, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and Special Olympics Bharat Goodwill Ambassador, also joining the stage to motivate athletes with their presence. The entire Indian contingent which will be departing for Berlin on June 12th, was also present on the occasion.
Irani also gave words of motivation for the athletes, saying, "Special Olympics Bharat athletes are the pride of the nation. Today, it was a matter of pride for me that I was invited to be a part of the send-off Ceremony for Special Olympics Bharat athletes. I also want to give a special thanks to all the parents. I want to tell all the athletes that the good wishes of a nation of 1.3 billion people are with you when they travel to Berlin."Former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh also made inspiring remarks, saying, "Thank you for having me here. Every kid is equally special to the country. All these athletes are truly special for all of us. You will be representing our country in Berlin. There is no bigger matter of honour and pride for a sportsperson to represent the country. We give you our wishes that you perform the best at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin and make the nation proud."Dr Mallika Nadda, the chairperson of Special Olympics Bharat, also wished the Indian contingent for the Berlin Games, saying, "Special Olympics Bharat believes in the inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities through means of education, health and sports. As our athletes gear up for the Berlin Games 2023, it is important for them to know that the nation is truly behind them and supports them in their journey. I express my sincere gratitude to each and every guest who came here to motivate our athletes and offer them their best wishes athletes ahead of the Berlin Games. We have been working towards providing a life of dignity to our special athletes. Our motto is to recognise, respect, accept and include. I urge every respected dignitary here to ensure the nation unites in giving our special athletes a grand welcome upon their return from Berlin." (ANI)