There were excitement, tears and joy as South Korea bid adieu to participants, officials and all in the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games family in the manner that world has become used to – with songs, entertainment and dance from beginning to the end.
After 7 days of inspiring and exciting Para moments, the Incheon Games came to a close tonight with Dato Zainal Abu Zarin, the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) President describing it as an “amazing 7-days of Para journey”.
As the athletes and officials bid farewell to Incheon with a tinge of sadness, the Paralympic family of Asia looks forward to returning to the next edition of the Games in Indonesia in 2018.
Upon the Games being declared officially closed, the Asian Paralympic Flag was lowered and handed over to the Dato Zainal, who then handed the flag to Prof Djoko Pekik Irianto, Deputy Minister of of Sports Achievement to the Youth and Sports Minister, who represented Indonesia.
The Munhak Stadium Incheon, also the venue for the opening ceremony, once again set the stage for the pomp and festivity of the closing ceremony of the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games, themed Anytime, Anywhere.
“This has been an incredible and amazing Para journey over the last 7 days!
As we reflect on our feat here, let us also look ahead, striving towards greater excellence in future. We seek to create more impact on this Games, to go beyond sports. Its not all about winning medals…above all, it’s about showing the world the power of Para sports as a unifying factor, equally, a factor for development and peace,” said dato Zainal in his closing speech, witnessed by some 30,000 audience.
“In four years’ time, we shall gather again in another soil, and in another nation, with another expectation and new experience. However, the Asian spirit of togetherness and oneness, remain strong in our hearts and in our journey,” he said.
Dato Zainal added: “Lets prepare ourselves for more challenges and more Para journeys…the next edition of Asian Para Games in four years time…the Asian Youth Games in 2017…the Asian Winter Games in 2017… the Annual APC Cup and Championships and the Para Games of the Asian Sub-Regions. We want the Tokyo 2020 Games to be another great happening to Asia and its 4.5 billion people, especially so, for the Asian paralympic athletes and Games officials.”
IAPGOC President Kim Sung Il, paid tribute to all those who were involved in the making of the Games. The ceremony was also attended by Republic of Korea Minister of Kim Jong-deuk.
Things livened up as sound of Korea took over the stage with a performance by ‘Little Angels’ and a 220 person large-scale percussion. The final goodbye was delivered by the mayor of Incheon followed by a performance by Korean classical musician Kim Young-Im, as fireworks lit up the night sky.
Saving the best for last, South Korea brought on SHINee, the country’s top K-pop band as the audience and athletes prepared to boogie the night away to their favourite beats.
The Incheon Para Games saw the setting of new world, Asian and Games records throughout the 7-day competition. A total of 24 world, 121 Asian and 305 Games records were set in the Games.
Some 2,500 athletes participated in the Games which saw 23 sports contested.