RongJing, wheelchair fencing athlete, leads the Chinese delegation, as the flagbearer. Photo by Li Gang from Xinhua News Agency
Xinhua News Agency - On the evening of the 7th, the 15thParalympic Games opened at the Maracana stadium in Rio—the “holy place offootball” in Brazil.
It is the first time for the Paralympic Games to set foot on South Americasince its inauguration in 1960. In the 12 days ensued, 4,432 athletes from 160countries and territories across the world are to gather by the Corcovadomountain to compete in 528 events under 22 sports of the Rio Paralympic Games.Two refugee athletes from Syria and Iran are to compete at this year’sParalympic Games as an independent Paralympic delegation.
As the sun set on Rio’s beaches, the curtain of Paralympics rose amid thesplendid night light. As the audience counted down, giant figures from 10 to 1appeared clockwise at the top of the Maracana stadium. Extreme wheelchairathlete, Aaron Fotheringham, dived from a 17-meter slope on one side of thestadium, passed through the ring symbolizing the number “0” and flied into thesky. Curtain was up.
During the live performance, the theme “borderless heart” ran throughoutthe opening ceremony to convey the limitless energy of Paralympic athletes tothe entire world. Amy Purdy, winner of the bronze medal for snowboarding at theParalympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, amputated from the knees down, “fightdancing” with a robotic arm, became the highlight of the show. She pulled offquite a number of challenging dance moves designed by the robot in a 4-minutecontemporary dance performance, to waves of applause from the 80,000-strongmembers of audience.
In an effort of enabling the Paralympic athletes to watch as much openingceremony performance as possible, the organizers moved up the Parade of theAthletes. The Chinese delegation was the 32nd in order and membersof the delegation wore blue uniforms and marched in, waving the national flagsof China and Brazil, led by Rong Jing, women’s wheelchair fencing champion atthe London Paralympic Games. China had won the most gold medals and Olympicmedals for three consecutive Paralympic Games. The delegation sent to the RioParalympic Games is the largest in size, consisting of 499 members, 307 of whomare athletes, who will compete in 328 events under 17 sports. It is the biggestdelegation China has ever sent to compete in offshore Paralympic Games and theathletes will compete in the highest number of events so far.
Atseven past nine in the evening, Temer, President of Brazil, unveiled the RioParalympic Games. Sir Philip Craven, president of the IPC, said, “Welcome tothe very first Paralympic Games on the South American continent. This year’sParalympic Games will sure to surprise you and give you a taste of the essenceof sports.”
With all eyes watching, the Paralympic flame arrived at the Maracanastadium, ending its journey across five cities in Brazil and the place oforigin of the Paralympics. Clodoaldo Silva, the last torch bearer and six-timegold medalist for swimming, brought the torch to the main cauldron and ignitedthe torch.