Updated on: Tuesday, August 24, 2021, 11:24 PM IST

Tokyo Paralympics off to glittering start

Indian contingent  | AFP

Indian contingent | AFP


Tokyo: The opening ceremony of the 16th Paralympic Games began here on Tuesday, paying homage to the resilience of para athletes and giving the message of moving forward amid the unrelenting devastation being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Paralympics have returned to Tokyo for the first time in 57 years, making the Japanese capital the first ever city to host the Games twice.

The ceremony is set in a Para Airport, a symbol of diversity and inclusion, and began with a video that depicted the strength of para athletes.

In the video, a gentle breeze turns into a huge gust of wind that reaches the stadium and sweeps through the field of play.

Following this, a group of crew members, who work at the airport, begin a countdown at the end of which fireworks light up the night sky to celebrate the start of the Games.

Before this, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons and Japanese Emperor Naruhito were welcomed to the stadium following which the Japanese flag was carried to the stage by six individuals including Kaori Icho, four-times Olympic freestyle wrestling champion and Takumi Astani, a rescue worker.

This edition of the showpiece will feature an unprecedented 4403 athletes.

The previous record was 4328 which was set at the Rio 2016 Games.

The Tokyo edition will have 2550 male athletes and 1853 female athletes vying for the top honours.

India is being represented by its largest ever delegation of 54 athletes in competitions spread across 12 days.

Mariyappan withdrawn as flag-bearer

High-jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu was on Tuesday replaced by shot-putter Tek Chand as India's flag-bearer for the Paralympics opening ceremony here this evening after coming in close contact of a COVID positive person during his flight to Tokyo. Mariyappan, a gold-medallist from Rio Olympics, has been quarantined along with five other Indians. Discus thrower Vinod Kumar is also among those withdrawn from the ceremony because of the same reason. "Just now we have received an information from the Tokyo Paralympic COVID control room that 6 of our para athletes have been found to be in close contact while they were travelling to Tokyo," India's Chef de Mission Gursharan Singh said. "Out of the six, Mariyappan and Vinod Kumar have also been found to be in close contact. Regretfully, Mariyappan who was the flag-bearer will not be able to join the march past today in the opening ceremony.

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Published on: Tuesday, August 24, 2021, 11:24 PM IST