2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games

SHANGHAI, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao declared open the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at the opening ceremony here on Tuesday.

A record 7,291 athletes from 164 countries and regions are set to take part in the 21-sport Games slated for Oct. 2-11 in Shanghai, with the eldest aged 69 and the youngest at 8.

Marking the first time the Games have been held in Asia, the Games also welcome 2,302 trainers, more than 20,000 family members of the intellectual disabled athletes, celebrities, VIPs and some 40,000 volunteers from all over the world.

The three-hour-long opening ceremony was visually striking with dazzling lighting, fireworks, costumes and overwhelming music.

The extravagant ceremony, featuring 5,800 performers, started with a drum show called "Harmony: Hearts Beating As One", performed by actors with intellectual disabilities.

Shanghai, People's Republic of China - In less than one year, Shanghai will welcome more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes representing 169 countries to its city when it hosts the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games. From 2 - 11 October, the world's most inspiring athletes will compete in 23 different Olympic-type sports at many of Shanghai's world renowned venues. Special Olympics Louisiana will send two athletes to participate in the global competition. The 12th Special Olympics Summer Games will be the first major multi-sport competition to take place in China with the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics Games following the next summer in Beijing.