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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Special Olympics kick off

2,000 athletes from 100 countries gather at Idaho Center in Nampa

NAMPA, Idaho – The 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games held its opening ceremony Saturday in the Idaho Center in southwest Idaho with teams from around the world taking part.

Gov. Butch Otter declared the games open to begin a week of competition that includes figure skating, snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, floor hockey and speed skating.

The games will run through Friday and have drawn some 2,000 athletes from nearly 100 countries.

Olympic figure skating gold medalist Scott Hamilton took part in the opening ceremonies.

A spokeswoman for the games said Vice President Joe Biden is expected to visit Idaho this week near the close of the seven-day event for disabled athletes.

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