The Tokyo Paralympic Games took flight with an allegorical aeroplane-themed opening ceremony packed with strong messages of inclusivity and hope for the world’s disabled population. Tokyo 2020 Paralympic opening ceremony Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga were among those present for a landmark moment organisers and many athletes feared may never happen.
The long-awaited event took place precisely 364 days later than planned and around 17 months since being postponed due to coronavirus.Today in a nutshell: the Paralympics lifted off with a fun airport-themed opening ceremony that featured the obligatory speeches, the flag of Afghanistan, and a 13-year-old girl playing a little one-winged plane that wanted to learn to fly.
Tomorrow’s key moments: the first of the 539 gold medals available at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will be won in the track cycling, swimming and wheelchair fencing.
Did you enjoy it? On the whole I thought it was mostly a light-hearted and fun ceremony to open up the Paralympics. Those of us of a certain vintage will have appreciated the bit when the DJ went completely late-80s/early 90s acid house on us all during the athlete’s parade. And they definitely doubled-down on attention to detail on the airport theme, with some of the dancers even wearing hats with little rotating propellers on them.
Ellie Simmonds and John Stubbs led out Great Britain’s delegation as flagbearers, smiling behind their masks as they waved for the cameras.
Yet it was 13-year-old wheelchair user Yui Wago who stole the show, producing a symbolic performance as ‘The Little One-Winged Plane’ who does not believe she can fly before finally taking off.
Addressing the gathered athletes ahead of 12 days of action, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons called for an end to discrimination.
“If the world has ever labelled you, now is your time to be relabelled: champion, hero, friend, colleague, role model or just human,” he said.
There were sombre moments though. Reflections on the year that has just gone, and the loss of life from Covid-19 that led to the Games being delayed. And there was also the recognition that the Afghanistan Paralympics team are not in Tokyo – but their flag was carried in a symbolic gesture.