Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony

Highlights from the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games © • IPC

The Opening Ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games was held on March 12, 2010 in BC Place Stadium at 18:00 local time. With the theme of “One Inspires Many”, it featured over 5000 local performers and was seen by more than 50,000 spectators in the stadium.

After a countdown and the welcoming fanfare, the national anthem of Canada was performed by Terry Kelly, a visually impaired former Paralympian. The anthem was at the same time signed by Mari Klaasen, with children forming a maple leaf formation.

One of the topics of the Opening Ceremony became apparent from the very beginning, the focus and attention on diversity as exemplified not only by the Paralympic Games, but also by Canada as a multicultural and multi-ethnic country. As such, the ceremonies make heavy use of First Nations imagery and mythology, fusing the beliefs of indigenous Canadians with more contemporary themes and technologies, thereby creating a common future for people of all cultures and identities. The Guardian Spirit, as a sequence shown after the national anthem, highlights this by presenting the mascot of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. Sumi, the eponymous guardian spirit, is a hybrid of orca, thunderbird and black bear – mythological creatures featuring heavily in the cultural narrative of the West Coast First Nations that symbolize themes of transformation and hybridity.

What followed was the Parade of Nations, once more showcasing the difference, but also the commonality of Paralympians.

The next sequence followed the theme of “One Inspires Many” by showing how one team is made up of many individuals and then focussing on the common story shared by all Paralympians, while at the same time giving an overview of the development of the Paralympic Games and the Paralympic Movement. Coming together through sport are people of vastly different backgrounds and identities, joining in a common movement and sharing a common goal while still retaining their individuality. This was shown by the visualization of the Paralympic Flag as a sign of this common interest, and as a sign of the movement.

Next, oaths by officials and athletes were taken, with both parties affirmed their respect of rules and regulations, of impartiality and fair play.

Spanning the ceremony and focussing on Canadian imagery was a sequence exploring how Canada and the Paralympic Games exist in synergy, and how fitting the Games actually are for Canada because of their own diverse culture. As the last Paralympic torch bearer, Zach Beaumont, a 15-year-old Paralympian, enters the stadium, the torch bearers lit the Paralympic flame, signalling the start of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

During the Vancouver Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Canadian singers and artists such as Luca Patuelli, Fefe Dobson and Martin Deschamps aided with their performances, in addition to the 5000 local artists and groups.