The Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games was the beginning of an event that raised the standard of Paralympic Sport. The ceremony itself was a poetic expression by the Chinese of “Transcendence, Equality and Integration”, the Beijing 2008 Paralympics theme. And at the same time, the Beijing 2008 Organizing Committee (BOCOG) made their “Games of Equal Splendour” pledge a priority throughout the the Games from the Opening until the end of the Closing Ceremony.
Almost 4,000 athletes from a total of 147 different countries around the world came to Beijing to compete in their respective sport. Some athletes competed in more than one event, but each participated on an elite level. Of those 147 countries, five competed in the Paralympic Games for the first time, including Burundi, Gabun, Georgia, Haiti and Montenegro.
The 20 sports included Archery, Athletics, Boccia, Cycling, Equestrian, Football 5-a-Side, Football 7-a-Side, Goalball, Judo, Powerlifting, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball (Sitting), Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Fencing, Wheelchair Rugby and Wheelchair Tennis. Rowing saw its inauguration into the Paralympic Programme at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. All sports were held at the venues in Beijing, with the exception of Sailing in Qingdao and Equestrian in Hong Kong.
The days of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games had a total of 472 medal events, with 262 for men (of which 59 include opportunities for persons with high support needs), 176 for women (of which 34 include opportunities for persons with high support needs), and 34 are for mixed (of which 22 include opportunities for persons with high support needs). The disability groups included spinal injury, amputee, visually impaired, cerebral palsy and les autres.
The Games saw a total of 279 new World records set and a total of new 339 Paralympic records broken.
The slogan for the Beijing Paralympic Games was “One World One Dream”, and the emblem was dubbed “Sky, Earth and Human Beings”, which is a stylized figure of an athlete in motion, implying the tremendous efforts a person with a disability has to make in sports as well as in real life. It also embodies the Paralympic Motto “Spirit in Motion”, and it reflects the integration of heart, body and spirit in human beings. This is the core of the philosophy of the Chinese culture.
The mascot for the Paralympic Games in Beijing was Fu Niu Lele. Shortened to Lele, the cow design for the mascot derives its inspiration from the farming cultivation culture of ancient Chinese civilization. The cow, symbolic of a down-to-earth, diligent, enduring spirit, was adopted to show the undying spirit of the athletes with a disability. It also follows the concept of “ Transcendence, Equality and Integration.”
The International Paralympic Committee, together with the National Paralympic Committees and the International Federations had a total of 2,500 officials and representatives. In terms of media, about 5,600 representatives were in Beijing for the Paralympic Games. And with regard to volunteers, more than 30,000 people took part in the Games.
With record numbers, the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games saw 1.9 million tickets sold, with an additional 600,000 tickets provided to children, education and community groups. The Opening and Closing Ceremony were sold out events, in addition to all Swimming events and most of the events in Athletics.
During the ten days of the Paralympic Torch Relay, a total of 850 Torchbearers took part in the two-route run. The “Ancient China” route covered the historic cities of Xi’an, Hohhot, Changsha, Nanjing and Luoyang. The “Modern China” route covered Shenzhen, Wuhan, Shanghai, Qingdao and Dalian. The Paralympic Torch Lighting took place at the Temple of Heaven.
Out of more than 1,000 doping tests conducted, there were three anti-doping rule violations. The doping tests performed included urine (Erythropoietin, EPO), and blood tests (Human Growth Hormone(hGH), synthetic haemoglobin (HBOC), blood transfusions (BT) and other substances).