Joy and sadness in Rio 2016 Paralympics closing ceremony
Joy and sadness in Rio 2016 Paralympics closing ceremony : (CNN)A poignant and defiant Rio 2016 Paralympics closing ceremony celebrated Brazil, the strength of the human spirit and diversity while stylishly handing the baton over for Tokyo 2020.
Brazilian music stars including Gaby Amarantos, Nacao Zumbi and queen of the carnival Ivete Sangalo brought the party Sunday as the host nation said goodbye to 11 record-breaking days of Paralympic sport.
While the night in Rio’s Maracana stadium featured a joyful extravaganza of music and dance, it was tinged with sadness after the tragic death of Iranian Para-cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad following a crash in Saturday’s C4-5 road race. Golbarnezhad is the first Paralympian to have died in the history of the Games.
International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven introduced a minute’s silence to commemorate the cyclist’s life.
“Tonight is a celebration of the last 12 days of sport but its also a sombre occasion after yesterday’s events,” he said. “The passing of Bahman Golbarnezhad has affected us all and left the whole Paralympic movement united in grief.”
Craven also thanked the people of Rio for their “outstanding support” of the Games. After initial fears, an estimated 1.9 million Paralympics tickets were sold, putting Rio second to only London 2012 as the most attended Games in history.
The IPC president awarded Rio the Paralympic Order, the movement’s highest tribute.
“Welcome as members of the Paralympic movement. Muito obrigado!” he told the 80,000-strong crowd in Rio’s Maracana.
Spirit of the Games
More tributes were offered as Tatyana McFadden of the US and Ibrahim Al Hussein, an independent athlete competing under the flag of the IPC, were honored with the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award.
The prize, named after a South Korean doctor who dedicated her life to Paralympic sport, recognizes athletes who best embody the spirit and values of the Games.
McFadden, who is paralyzed from the waist down and was adopted from a Russian orphanage where she had no wheelchair, won four golds and two silvers at Rio 2016 out of a total of 17 career medals — including seven golds.
Al Hussein is a refugee from Syria. He thought his swimming dreams were over when he was hit by a bomb blast in 2013.
After his right leg was amputated below the knee, he went without painkillers for two months, according to the Rio 2016 website.
He eventually fled to Turkey, from where he crossed the Mediterranean on a boat to Greece.
Both athletes received a solid gold medal.
It wouldn’t be a party without music and, this being Rio, it was eclectic, flamboyant and delivered in fantastic outfits.
Grammy award-winning opening act Vanessa da Mata came on stage in a white cone dress, part see-through and lit up with LED lights.
Megastar Ivete Sangalo, who has over 15 million followers on Twitter, emerged in a slinky white number to delight the home audience with her medley of well-loved hits.
A highlight of the opening sequence was guitarist Jonathan Bastos. Born without arms, he learned to play the guitar with his feet.
Over to Tokyo
As the Rio 2016 flame was extinguished marking the official end of the Games, excitement awaits as the Tokyo 2020 presentation showed its passion for the Paralympics.
A moving film portrayed the impact of the Tokyo 1964 Games, where Japan made its Paralympic debut.
“They were like everyone else,” remarked one Japanese Paralympian, observing athletes from other nations participate in everyday life.
Dancer Koichi Omae, whose career was devastated after a truck ran him over, performed a graceful display with glowing lights on the end of his amputated leg. He reinvented himself after the accident.
With these inspirational examples, the closing ceremony demonstrated that the Paralympics is about far more than sport — showcasing athletes who make the world focus on what they can do, rather than what they can’t
And with a final explosion of fireworks from the roof of the Maracana, the curtain came down on the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Source : http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/19/sport/paralympics-2016-closing-ceremony-rio/index.html