Domenica, 21 Gennaio, 2018

Rio 2016 Paralympics: Brazilian city takes centre stage as Paralympic Games begin

Rufina Vignone | 09 Settembre, 2016, 10:48

The unidentified Belarussian man marched into Rio de Janeiro s Maracana stadium at the back of the Belarus delegation during Wednesday night s opening ceremony, brandishing Russian Federation s white, blue and red flag.

A nod to the past came nearly immediately with Sir Philip Craven, the president of the International Paralympic Committee, packing his bags for Brazil; suitably equipped for his travels with yellow sandals and inflatable armbands during a modest, but no less touching, opening montage chronicling the wheelchair basketball icon's not so arduous commute to Rio. And there was an audible gasp in the 78,000-seat stadium as someone in a wheelchair propelled themselves down a six-storey high ramp and through a hoop. Malta's sole representative at the Rio Paralympic Games is Vlada Kravchenko (bottom).

However, controversy hung over the now show by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach - the first absence of an IOC chief since the 1984 Summer Games.

As did an appearance from Brazil's new president Michel Temer, who officially declared the Games open with a remarkably short speech so as not to draw more ire from the crowd.

The IOC chief said he had to miss the ceremony to attend a state mourning ceremony in Germany for Walter Scheel, the former West Germany president. In Paralympic powerlifting, athletes compete in a single lift - the bench press - and have three attempts, with the heaviest lift counting toward their final placement. Others to watch include Britain's wheelchair racer David Weir and China's blind sprinter Liu Cuiqing.

However, there have been suggestions that the no-show has to do with divisions over the Paralympic committee's outright ban on Russian athletes after allegations of a state-sanctioned doping program and the IOC's relatively softer line.

There were also reports in Globo and other Brazilian media outlets that Bach is wanted for questioning by local police investigating an illegal ticket selling ring allegedly involving senior Olympic official Patrick Hickey.

Also missing were 267 Russian athletes who were banned because of alleged state-sponsored doping. Separately, UK Athletics will review classifications after the Games, according to BBC News, following concerns that athletes were being mismatched to create an unfair advantage.

Organizers say tickets sales have been booming. This follows concerns about half-empty stadiums at numerous Olympics events.

Rio organizers said that just 12 percent of tickets had been sold two weeks ago, but one look at a near-full Maracana during the opening ceremony immediately quelled any lingering fears.

"We'll soon be over the 1.7 million mark". The goal is 2.4 million. He said, over 4,300 athletes from 159 countries plus members of the worldwide refugee team were taking part in the games. China will have its biggest-ever team of 308 athletes in Rio looking to beat their 95 gold medals from London, where they topped the table for the third-straight Paralympics. The Americans are on a quest for gold after finishing fourth in the 2012 London Paralympic Games and winning back-to-back gold medals in Beijing and Athens.

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