“I want to thank the people of Canada, here and all across this great nation,” Sir Philip said
With the theme “One Inspires Many”, the Opening Ceremony was a celebration of ability, courage and the human spirit, bringing many distinguished guests including Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada to the event. Broadcasted live on www.ParalympicSport.TV, as well as in several countries all around the world and on outdoor big-screen televisions at the city of Vancouver’s LiveCity celebration site, Canadians had the chance to be part of the spectacular event and experience the excitement.
A parade of athletes entered the stadium soon after a dance routine which involved hundreds of volunteers dressed in colourful clothes and wigs. One athlete from each country was chosen as the flagbearer, leading each team onto the main stage area with a cheering crowd to welcome them. A total of 506 winter athletes from 44 countries are participating at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, and quickly added to the enthusiastic crowd at the Opening Ceremony. The reception of the Canadian Team brought in a roaring sound of cheering from the audience.
Audience members were each given a bag full of various interactive elements to the ceremony, including a pom-pom full of orange lights and a luminescent coloured gold card. The sold out crowd had the opportunity with these elements to participate in the celebration, creating a high-energy atmosphere that became Vancouver’s welcome.
Speaking to the sold-out stadium, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven thanked the Organizing Committee and the volunteers for their incredible work over the past few years in preparing for the Winter Games, as well as the Canadian people.
“I want to thank the people of Canada, here and all across this great nation,” Sir Philip said. “For the Opening Ceremony, spectators from across five continents will join you in experiencing what the Paralympic Spirit is all about. Media from all over the world will ensure that the stories and moving images will reach to the farthest corners of planet earth.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) John Furlong also spoke at the Opening Ceremony, and said that the people of Canada are ready to welcome Paralympic athletes and their families. He said that since the time that Vancouver was awarded the Winter Games in 2003, the country has pledged to successfully carry out the Paralympic Games for all athletes to achieve their best performances.
The Opening Ceremony also had several well-known athletes with a disability who have contributed to the Paralympic Movement like Terry Fox, who aimed to run a marathon across Canada. Fox ran what amounted to a marathon a day, for a total of 143 days, before his lungs succumbed to cancer forcing him to stop. Terry Fox’s name is now a part of a massive worldwide marathon initiative, which raises money for cancer research.
Fox’s parents were also part of the Opening Ceremony, bringing in the Paralympic Torch which had just spent a full 24-hour period in and around Vancouver. Their Torch lit a circle of other Paralympic Torches, and lead to the final centre piece, which was a massive Paralympic Torch installation.
Other performers during the Opening Ceremony included well-known Canadian singers and performers which marked an exciting beginning to the Vancouver Paralympics. The event ended with hundreds of dancers flooding the stage, and confetti pieces fired into the air.
The Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games begin in Whistler and Vancouver tomorrow, with events in Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Ice Sledge Hockey and Wheelchair Curling. To relive the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver Games, check out the IPC’s internet channel, www.ParalympicSport.TV, the best source for Paralympic Sport content.
For more information about the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, please visit www.vancouver2010.com.