The Paralympic Games began with a spectacular display of fireworks lighting up the Tokyo sky to commence the delayed event. Representing Team GB, Ellie Simmonds and John Stubbs who have won 5 Paralympic gold medals between them. They held the flag with 219 GB athletes following behind.
The ceremony was closed off from spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic but this didn’t stop crowds gathering outside to capture this monumental event. Team GB have set their hopes high for this year’s Paralympic Games. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga were present at the event.
The opening ceremony featured acrobats, clowns, vibrant music and fireworks at the stadium to mark the start of the long parade of athletes that were to come.
Addressing the athletes inside the stadium, IPC president Andrew Parson said,
Paralympians, you gave your all to be here: blood, sweat and tears. Now it’s your moment to show to the world your skill, your strength, your determination.
If the world has ever labelled you, now is your time to be relabelled: champion, hero, friend, colleague, role model or just human. You are the best of humanity and the only ones who can decide who and what you are.
Your performances change the fortunes of your lives but more importantly they will change the lives of 1.2 billion (disabled people worldwide) forever. This is the power of sport, to transform lives and communities. Change starts with sport and from tomorrow on Paralympic athletes start to change the world.
The flag of Afghanistan also made an appearance, carried by a volunteer despite no representation from the country due to the ongoing situation following the Taliban takeover.
The Paralympics are still closed off from fans and organisers are doing their best to limit any new infections coming into the country. Tokyo was declared in a state of emergency until September 12th with the Paralympics ending on the 5th. There have been a total of 1.2M confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan.
In the meantime, we’ll be watching carefully on our screens to see how well Team GB do as they make their mark in Japan representing all that is British and championing diversity! All the best Team GB!