Paralympics close on mournful note - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Paralympics close on mournful note

By Jordan Baker 29/09/2004 05:17:10 AM Comments (0)

An hour-long no-frills closing ceremony dedicated to the victims of this week's school bus crash brought to an end the Paralympic Games in Athens.

Organisers cut the celebratory aspects out of the closing ceremony as the nation mourned the death of seven teenagers who died in a horrific highway smash on their way to the capital to watch the Games.

But there were still fireworks and a standing ovation as the athletes entered the Olympic stadium.

The official proceedings began with International Paralympic Committee president Phil Craven, who said the children of Greece had learned first hand the meaning of Paralympic spirit.

"This simple truth magnifies the tragedy that has befallen their families and friends," he said.

"Tonight we mourn their loss and dedicate, to these young people, the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games."

Craven said Greece had shown the world how life and sport can come together in friendly and peaceful harmony.

Instead of delivering a speech, ATHOC president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki addressed the athletes in a letter.

"The athletes have captured the hearts and cheers of Greece," she said.

"From the opening ceremony on, it spread beyond the stadiums and arenas and into the streets of Athens, teaching a nation about your sports and events and inspiring us all."

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