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Opening ceremony: Athletes gear up for Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle

SEATTLE  — Thousands of athletes have marched into Husky Stadium in Seattle for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games.

Athletes representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia on Sunday afternoon waved and smiled to cheers from spectators at the University of Washington.

Starting Monday, more than 4,000 athletes will compete in 14 sports including gymnastics, basketball, swimming, power lifting and standup paddle boarding.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee welcomed the crowd and called attention to the youngest competitor, 8-year-old gymnast Frannie Ronan from his state.

The USA games take place every four years and promote acceptance and inclusion through sport while showcasing the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

Events will be held at venues throughout the Seattle region this week, ending with Friday's closing ceremony.