Cloud over closing ceremony

2004-09-27 14:52
Athens - The closing ceremony of the Athens Paralympics will be stripped of its festive elements in commemoration of seven Greek schoolchildren killed on Monday in a car accident on their way to watch a competition, organisers said.

"The Athens Olympics Organising Committee has decided to cancel the closing ceremony of the 12th Athens Paralympics as initially planned and scheduled because of the tragic accident that cost the life of pupils," ATHOC said in a statement.

"The artistic and entertainment part of the ceremony will not take place," the statement added.

The closing ceremony will now consist only of the athletes entry into the main Olympic stadium, the closing speech by the president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the handover of the Paralympics flag to 2008 Paralympics organisers Beijing and the extinction of the Paralympic flame.

The ceremony in the 70 000-seater stadium had been sold out. Those who choose not to attend the curtailed ceremony will get their money back, ATHOC said.

All the Paralympics venues were due to hold a one-minute silence in memory of the victims later on Monday.

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