The 2016 Summer Paralympic Games began on 7 September 2016 at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fifteenth Summer Paralympic Games will conclude on 18 September 2016.
The games started after the symbolic cauldron was lit by Brazilian swimmer and wheelchair user Clodoaldo Silvax. The flame travelled across all five regions of Brazil over seven days, with 500 torchbearers taking part. The quadrangular torch reflects the four Paralympic values – courage, determination, inspiration and equality.
After this, the athletes’ parade was led by Ibrahim Al Hussein, a Syrian refugee who will compete as part of the Independent Paralympic Athletes (IPA) Team at the Games. Each national team will have their own flag-bearer.
Around 4350 athletes from more than 160 countries will compete in 22 different sports. Of the total number of athletes set to take part, approximately 1650 will be women. Canoeing and Paratriathlon is being included in the Games for the first time in Rio.
The opening ceremony saw participation of about five hundred professional staff, including choreographers and artists, and 2000 volunteers. The Ceremony was created by three directors – designer Fred Gelli, writer Marcelo Rubens Paiva and artist Vik Muniz.
The theme of the Ceremony “Every Body Has A Heart”, reflected its focus on the human condition, feelings, difficulties, solidarity and love. The main attraction of the opening ceremony was performance of Samba dance by US snowboarder and Paralympic medallist Amy Purdy.
India in Rio Paralympics
The Indian contingent, largest-ever from the country, comprises 19 athletes who will be featuring in 10 disciplines of games.
Devendra Jhajharia, who became India’s first Paralympic gold medallist in Athens 2004, was the flag-bearer for the Indian contingent.
Earlier, the Sports Ministry announced that the Gold medallist Paralympians will be awarded 75 lakh rupees, Silver medallists will get 50 lakh rupees and bronze medallists 30 lakhs.
So far, India had won total eight medals, two gold, three silver and three bronze, at the Paralympic Games.
Indian Squad at Games
Men: Mariyappan Thangavelu, Varun Singh Bhati, Sharad Kumar, Rampal Chahar (High jump), Naresh Kumar Sharma (Shooting), Suyash Narayan Jadhav (Swimming), Basha Farman (Powerlifting), Amit Kumar Saroha, Dharambir (Club throw), Devendra Jhajaria, Rinku, Sundar Singh Gurjar, Narender Ranbir, Sandeep (Javelin), Ankur Dhama (1,500m), and Virender Dhanka (Javelin, Shotput).
Women: Pooja (Archery), Deepa Malik (Shot put), and Karamjyoti Dalal (Discus).
Important facts about the Rio Paralympics
• This is the first time that the Summer Paralympics is being held during the host city's wintertime.
• This will mark the first time a Latin American and South American city hosts the event.
• Rio also becomes the second city in the Southern Hemisphere city to host the event. In 2000, Sydney, Australia became the first city in southern hemisphere to host Summer Paralympics.
• It is also the first time a Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) country hosts the event.
• The event saw launch of structure of the Paralympic Mural with messages written in various languages. The mural was signed by Para athletes and their nation’s Chef de Missions.
• New sculpture of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games’ symbol, the three Agitos, was unveiled by at Copacabana beach. The three Agitos, the red, blue, and green asymmetrical crescent shapes has been the symbol of the Paralympic Games since 2003.
• The Copacabana Agitos sculpture was designed by artists Elisa Brasil and Tejota Bastos with a unique interactive component: each of the three crescent shapes has a different texture and smell. The red shape has the smell of the Brazilian berry guarana, the blue shape smells of fabric softener, and the green of mint.
The 10 categories of impairment recognised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) are impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment.
Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium is best known for hosting football and was opened in 1950 to host the World Cup of that year. It also played host to 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony.
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What: Kicked Off
When: 7 September 2016