Address by Nelson Mandela at 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games Opening Ceremony

21 June 2003

President of the Special Olympics
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
And particularly the Athletes

Few things in life could have given me greater pleasure and done me more honour than being associated with the Special Olympics. I regard myself immensely privileged to be at this occasion tonight.

The Special Olympics give telling testimony to the indestructibility of the human spirit and of our capacity to overcome hardships and obstacles.

You, the athletes, are ambassadors of the greatness of humankind. You inspire us to know that all obstacles to human achievement and progress are surmountable. Your achievements remind us of the potential to greatness that resides in every one of us.

I am here amongst other things as the representative of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund that has developed a close relationship with the Special Olympics. The Children's Fund works for the bettering of the life of children in South Africa. Through its work it seeks to ensure a future of hope for our children, many of whom have suffered great disadvantages in their lives.

I bring you the greetings of the Children's Fund and of the children and youth of South Africa. To them too you serve as example and inspiration.

May the Games be enjoyable to you in the challenges it poses. May you continue to grow as individuals and persons. And may the world learn from your example.

I thank you for the honour of being able to share in this great occasion.


It is my honour to declare the 2003 Special Olympics Summer World Games officially open.

Let the games begin!!!!

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation