Tokyo bids adieu to Paralympics with message of change

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Tokyo, Sep 5 (IANS) With a message of change, of inclusivity, of ability and super ability, of humanity and togetherness amidst music and dance, conducted by disabled artists, Tokyo bid farewell to para-sportspersons from all over the world in a glittering ceremony that brought down the curtain on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The ceremony was themed on a youngster’s awakening about the Paralympic Games, para-sportspersons, and their different abilities and personalities. He wakes up in a prototype of the Paralympic Games village, which resembles a miniature city, where para-sportspersons start arriving, preparing, and participating in the Games and depicts how his approach towards the participants changes.

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The concept underlying the closing ceremony was “Harmonious Cacophony,” while the presentation was meant to convey the idea that Tokyo is a city where difference shines. The organisers referred to the theme as a “world inspired by the Paralympics, one where differences shine”.

The idea was to turn the focus towards the 1.5 billion people that are differently-abled and ready to showcase their abilities. The athletes, that were part of the parade, were asked to help prepare a huge tower that the artists finally placed upright to depict the harmoniously engaged people can make things possible.

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And the Indian contingent embraced the principle of change as for the first time in the history of such Games, a woman was the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent. Avani Lekhara led the Indian delegation into the stadium. She was the star of the Indian campaign — the first woman from India to win a gold medal in either Olympics or Paralympic Games.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons declared the Tokyo 2020 Games closed, officially bringing down the curtains on the 2020 Paralympics.

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In his address, Parsons reflected briefly on the difficult road to Tokyo 2020.

“There were many times when we thought these games could not happen … There were many sleepless nights.

“After eight amazing years, I can’t believe our time is almost done. What a time, what a sport, what a Games. … All I can say is, arigato, Tokyo!,” said Parsons who hoped the 2020 Paralympic Games will encourage people to think of the 1.5 billion disabled people around the world and help create opportunities for them.

Following the entry of national flags, the event introduced I’mPOSSIBLE — an education programme developed by the Agitos Foundation, the IPC’s development arm. A brief presentation saw three schools (two from Japan, one from overseas) and two Paralympic athletes are given the I’mPOSSIBLE Awards for their contributions toward inclusion.

Before the harmonious cacophony commenced, the many volunteers who helped Tokyo 2020 materialise were acknowledged with a rousing round of applause.

After the lowering of the Paralympic flag, the baton was handed over to Paris for the 2024 Games.

There was a presentation by artists from Paris who welcomed participants for the next edition in three years. “Hope to see you there in Paris in three years,” Parsons said.

And the lights were slowly extinguished, to be lighted again in Paris in 2024.

–IANS

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