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INTERNATIONAL PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE

Athens 2004 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony

Taking place on September 17, 2004, in the Athens Olympic Stadium “Spyridon Louis” the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games focussed on the strength of life and the energy inherent in the universe. Centred on a 26 meter tall plane tree in the middle of the stadium symbolising life and drawing on elements and themes from classic Greek history and mythology as well as contemporary ideas, the ceremony started with Vicky Leandros singing the Greek national Anthem. Children raised lights to the sky in a visualization of Hippocrates passing on knowledge to future generations.

Using theatrical parts as well as light and music, the show featured the story of human achievement and perseverance in the face of adversity, always falling back to the motif of human achievement and the strength of life being a considerable force in the world. Afterwards, the Parade of Nations took place. The music featured throughout this parade told the story of Hephaestos, a Greek god and son of Zeus and Hera. Being unusually small, he was cast from Mount Olympus and left to die by his mother, but was nursed back to health by Thetis and Eurynome, who also taught him how to work a foundry. Despite all adversities and the impairments he incurred as a result of being cast down from Mount Olympus, Hephaestos grew up to become the Greek god of Fire and Metallurgy, tying his myth into the topic of overcoming adversity through perseverance and the strength of life.

After the Parade of Nations, the Games were declared opened by IPC President Sir Philip Craven and Greek president Costis Stephanopoulos. The Paralympic flame was lit by Georgios Toptsis, a Greek long jumper, followed by a fireworks display.

The Athens Paralympics Opening Ceremony was seen by 72,000 spectators in the stadium.