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  Dazzling display opens Special Olympics
Updated 22 June 2003, 15.39
Athlete David McCauley, 16, lights the Olympic Torch
The Special Olympics have got off to a spectacular start in Ireland.

Around 75,000 people packed into Dublin's Croke Park stadium to watch a dazzling three-hour opening ceremony.

Nelson Mandela attended the ceremony

A total 7,000 competitors from 160 countries are taking part in the 35th Special Olympics for athletes with learning disabilities.

The opening ceremony included performances by U2, Ronan Keating, Samantha Mumba and The Corrs.

Guest of honour was former South African president Nelson Mandela.

"You the athletes are ambassadors for the greatness of human kind," he said.

Spectators were impressed by a massive fireworks display

Other stars at the ceremony included footballer Roy Keane, racing driver Eddie Irvine and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The highlight of the ceremony was the lighting of the Special Olympics Flame Of Hope by 16-year-old Team Ireland athlete David McCaulay.

The Special Olympics are twice as big as the Commonwealth Games held in England last year.

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