Opening Ceremony of 2018 Asian Para Games Highlights Unity, Inspiration
The opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Para Games on Saturday evening (06/10) was a sequence of unity and inspiration displaying the talent and spirit of people with disabilities, as Indonesia welcomed athletes and officials from 43 countries participating in the international multisport event.
Indonesia had a successful run as host of the 2018 Asian Games, which saw its athletes winning 31 gold, 24 silver and 43 bronze medals and finishing in fourth place overall in the medal count.
The inaugural Asian Para Games, which is held after every Asian Games, took place in Guangzhou, China, in 2010.
Nearly 3,000 athletes will compete in more than 500 events in 18 sports disciplines between Oct. 6 and 13. There will also be 1,900 officials and about 8,000 volunteers to ensure that the event runs smoothly.
According to Asian Paralympic Committee president Majid Rashed, this year's Asian Para Games has the largest number of participating athletes and countries.
Rashed said that despite Asia being home to about 60 percent of the world's population, the region is still underrepresented on the global stage when it comes to para sports. At the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games for example, only 20 percent of the competitors were from Asia.
In his speech during the opening ceremony, Rashed highlighted the power of parasports to challenge perceptions of disability.
"We want the athletes' performance to encourage and excite young people with disabilities across Asia; we want them to believe that there is no limit on what they can achieve and what they can do," he said.
"We want the barriers between people with disability and others to be broken down, and for society to become inclusive and friendly for everyone," Rashed added.
Indonesian Asian Para Games Organizing Committee (Inapgoc) chairman Raja Sapta Oktohari said he hopes this year's event can help to lift the spirit of Indonesians who were affected by recent natural disasters in Lombok and Central Sulawesi.
"We are still grieving from the natural disasters that hit Indonesia, in Lombok, Palu and Donggala, but we are determined to make this event a success, so that it can be a solace, and lift the spirit of our brothers and sisters who were affected by these disasters," Raja said.
Rashed noted that since his first visit to Indonesia, he has witnessed big changes when it comes to awareness and attitudes towards people with disabilities, which he said was thanks to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's support.
Jokowi, who attended the ceremony at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta, declared the official start of the 2018 Asian Para Games by using both regular speech and sign language.
With the ocean as its main theme, the opening ceremony featured a series of performances, which involved some famous figures in Indonesia's disabled community, including paraclimber Sabar Gorky, deaf activist Surya Sahetapy and musician Zizi Raziq.
Andi Rianto directed the music for the opening ceremony, while Jay Subiyakto was the director and set designer. Chitra Subiyakto designed the costumes.
Besides the beautiful performances, the stadium was filled with high spirits and inspiration, which marked the beginning of the week-long event involving some of the strongest and most resilient people.
"Parasport is not only about winning or losing, but it's about sportivity and relations between countries. Let's showcase our abilities to the fullest, which is truly inspirational, and our care for disability," Raja said.
Source : Jakarta Globe