Paralympic Winter Games
04 - 13 March

IPC President Andrew Parsons' Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony speech

Full text of Andrew Parsons' Opening Ceremony address 04 Mar 2022
Andrew Parsons is pictured on a large screen at the Opening Ceremony of Beijing 2022 alongside a sentence of his speech which reads: 'tonight I want to begin with a message of peace'
Andrew Parsons spoke at the Opening Ceremony of Beijing 2022.
ⒸOIS Photos

Your Excellency, Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China,

President of the Organising Committee, Cai Qi,

Sport fans all around the world,

Athletes from all competing delegations, officials and distinguished guests,

Good evening and welcome to the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.

Tonight, I want to begin with a message of peace.

As the leader of an organisation with inclusion at its core, where diversity is celebrated and differences embraced, I am horrified at what is taking place in the world right now.

The 21st Century is a time for dialogue and diplomacy, not war and hate.

The Olympic Truce for peace during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a UN Resolution adopted by consensus by 193 Member States at the 76th UN General Assembly. It must be respected and observed not violated.

At the IPC we aspire to a better and more inclusive world, free from discrimination, free from hate, free from ignorance and free from conflict.

Here in Beijing, Paralympic athletes from 46 different nations will compete with each other, not against each other.

Through sport they will showcase the best of humanity and highlight the values that should underpin a peaceful and inclusive world.

Paralympians know that an opponent does not have to be an enemy, and that united we can achieve more, much more.

Tonight, the Paralympic Movement calls on world authorities to come together, as athletes do, and promote peace, understanding and inclusion. The world must be a place for sharing, not for dividing.

Change Starts with Sport.  Not only can it bring harmony, but it can be a catalyst to transforming the lives of people, cities and countries.

As the first city to stage both the summer and winter Paralympics, Beijing is proof of this.
Ahead of these Games, hundreds of thousands of facilities have been made barrier free. 

The venues are magnificent. The organisation is extraordinary. The Covid-19 prevention and control — safe and efficient.

The hospitable Chinese people have built the stage to fully showcase the best of Paralympic winter sports.

Efforts to encourage and engage persons with disabilities to try winter sports have been outstanding.

To the people of China: Xièxiè!

Paralympians, there is an important moment in your lives when, because of sport, you embrace your disability. Not as something that defines you, but something that is part of who you are.  As you embrace it, you find your strength, where others have seen weakness, and your find your own power and path to maximise what you can do.

If 15% of world’s population has a disability, Paralympians show to the remaining 85% of people that persons with disabilities can do whatever they want, if given the opportunity.

This is why the IPC and the International Disability Alliance launched WeThe15 alongside a coalition of 18 international organisations.

Through WeThe15 we want to campaign for disability visibility, accessibility, inclusion, and equality of rights.

Every one of the world’s 1.2 billion citizens with disabilities should have the same opportunity to live life to the fullest, chasing their dreams, finding their way through life’s ups and downs, and contributing to society. As humankind, it is up to each and every one of us to Commit to Change to guarantee that opportunity.

Finally, Paralympic athletes, your preparations to reach these Games have not been easy, especially due to the global pandemic. You define the meaning of determination, you personify perseverance.

Celebrate your achievements here, and be proud that your abilities can, and will, change the world for a many, many millions of people.

Above all, have fun and play fair. 

I wish you all the best of luck.

Xièxiè! Thank you very much! Muito obrigado! Peace!

It is now my honour to invite the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping to declare open the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.