"Athletes and officials from a record 45 National Paralympic Committees - welcome to the Games – a Games where sport must be the winner in Sochi."
The people of Russia,
Athletes, Officials, Distinguished Guests,
Paralympic sport fans from all over the world,
Good evening and welcome to Sochi, the home of the Paralympic Winter Games.
The start of the biggest Paralympic Winter Games ever.
Tonight is a very special occasion, tonight is proof that what might not seem possible, is possible.
Thirty four years ago when the old Soviet Union declined the opportunity to stage the 1980 Paralympic Games in Moscow, the prospect of Russia staging its first Paralympic Games was nothing but a dream.
But dreams do come true, and since winning the Games seven years ago, this part of Russia has undergone a monumental transformation. However, the biggest transformation for this country is still yet to come.
In the same way that the city of Sochi has built a barrier free environment for athletes and officials to enjoy, I call upon all those who experience these Games to have barrier free minds too.
For over the coming days you will watch high performance sport showcasing feats of endurance that will surprise you, tremendous skills that will excite you and examples of human endeavour that will inspire you.
The sport you witness here will change you. Not just for now, but forever.
Special thanks must go to Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Kozak and the entire Russian government; to Dimitry Chernyshenko’s Sochi 2014 team and the thousands of volunteers for not just being our welcoming hosts here, but for their desire and commitment to create a magnificent platform upon which change will happen.
I would also like to welcome Thomas Bach to his first Paralympic Winter Games as IOC President and his predecessor Jacques Rogge, both of whom have played major roles in the growth of the Paralympic Movement.
Athletes and officials from a record 45 National Paralympic Committees - welcome to the Games – a Games where sport must be the winner in Sochi.
You have here superb sporting venues to express your amazing talents and live up to the Paralympic values of determination and courage, inspiration and equality.
Together you are the catalysts for change. United as one, you have the ability to change perceptions and alter attitudes like no other.
You arrive here as the best prepared athletes ever to attend a Paralympic Winter Games.
You will leave as role models, heroes, pioneers and most of all Proud Paralympians.
If London 2012 had its Games Makers, then you the Sochi 2014 athletes, volunteers, officials and staff will be the Change Makers.
I wish you all the very best of luck. Play fair and most of all have fun.
It is now my honour to invite the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin to declare open the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.