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Opening of Para Games celebrated

By LIN SHUJUAN| chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: October 23, 2023 L M S


China delegation parades into the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium during the opening ceremony of 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province on Oct 22, 2023. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/chinadaily.com.cn]

Following its recent success in hosting the 19th Asian Games, Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, celebrated the opening of a related grand sporting event, the 4th Asian Para Games, with a technologically empowered, emotionally engaging opening ceremony on Sunday night.

The ceremony, themed "Hearts Meet, Dreams Shine", was held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, also known as the "Big Lotus".

While the opening ceremony on Sept 23 of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou showcased to the world the host city's rich cultural heritage, picturesque scenery and technological prowess, the opening ceremony of the Asian Para Games focused more on the softer side of Hangzhou and its people.

The ceremony featured the osmanthus, the city flower of Hangzhou, as the key element to convey the "sunny, harmonious, persevering and sharing" spirit of the Para Games.

Following an opening show featuring a first-person narration by a young girl with visual impairment who welcomed guests from afar while the osmanthus is in full blossom, spectators cheered as Vice-Premier Ding Xuexiang declared the opening of the sporting gala.

Twenty-two massive bouquets of golden osmanthus, which represent the 22 sports featured in the event, served as the centerpiece of the ceremony.

With the help of technology, the bouquets took on different configurations — sometimes as water, sometimes as arched bridges — before eventually turning into a giant crown suspended in the air, welcoming the athletes as they entered the stadium.

According to the ceremony's creative team, the osmanthus is a fitting symbol of the courage shown by athletes with impairments.

In Chinese culture, the osmanthus, which has a sweet, permeating fragrance amid the autumn cold, represents both refined taste developed over time and the spirit of resilience and perseverance. Moreover, since the osmanthus blooms in clusters, its also serves as an ideal symbol for love, inclusion and unity.

While the parade of athletes proceeded to the melody of Our Asia, with the giant crown of osmanthus raised in the air, the scent of osmanthus was sprayed across the stadium, creating an immersive experience of the season.

Wang Hao, president of the 4th Asian Para Games Hangzhou Organizing Committee, said Hangzhou has been dedicated to hosting a streamlined, safe and splendid Asian Para Games to deliver an unforgettable celebration of sports, sportsmanship and life.

"Zhejiang province is working to become a demonstration zone for achieving common prosperity, where every person has the opportunity to shine and realize his or her dream. 'Hearts Meet, Dreams Shine' is not only the slogan of this Asian Para Games, but also our shared aspiration," said Wang, who is also governor of Zhejiang province.

"We hope that the para-athletes will enjoy the competition as they pursue excellence in sports, realize their dreams, and shine with dignity, confidence, strength and independence," Wang added.

Majid Rashed, the president of the Asian Paralympic Committee, expressed appreciation for the Chinese host's meticulous organization.

"The huge efforts of the Chinese government and (the organizing committee) in making these Games a success, is helping us to get closer to achieving our vision of creating an inclusive Asia through sport," said Rashed, who thanked the organizing committee for its "tireless efforts, which will make these the best ever Asian Para Games, I'm sure".

While a stunning, giant digital torchbearer, known as Wave Rider, wowed the world when it lit the main cauldron, along with Olympic swimming gold medalist Wang Shun, during the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, advanced technology also played a role in igniting the cauldron for the Para Games. The final torch bearer, Xu Jialing,a Zhejiang native who won seven swimming gold medals at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Para Games, used a high-tech prosthetic arm to finish the task, together with Feifei, the Para Games' mascot.

Inspired by the image of the Divine Bird — believed to be a bringer of glad tidings — found in the 5,000-year-old Liangzhu civilization, Feifei is an icon of Hangzhou's heritage and drive for technological innovation, a messenger of culture, joy and happiness.

In the next six days, the Para Games will see 3,100 athletes from 44 countries and regions compete in 564 medal events in 22 sports.

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