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The flame for the Special Olympic World Winter Games for the intellectually disabled that was lit in Greece started its national tour in South Korea Wednesday on its way to the country's alpine town of PyeongChang, the event's host city.
Seoul marked the first step of the flame's journey as a prelude to the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games set to be held on Jan. 29 to Feb. 5.
The organizing committee held a ceremony to mark the start of the journey at a square in Seoul's Gwanghwamun intersection with some 131 torch relay runners, including 10 intellectually disabled athletes, from 21 countries attending.
After the ceremony, the torch was split into two for separate journeys to the southwestern and southeastern parts of the country.
The flame will be reunited in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul, on Monday after traveling a total of 2,500 kilometers and be carried to the Special Olympics torch during the opening ceremony of the Games on Tuesday, according to the organizers.
More than 3,000 athletes from 111 countries taking part in seven sports, including alpine skiing, snowboarding, speed skating and figure skating, in the biennial competition.
The Special Olympics World Games have been held every two years since 1968, and they alternate between summer and winter editions. The winter version was introduced in 1977.