he Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony takes place today with six Asian countries taking part. A total of 169 athletes from the region will compete which makes up 30% of the total athlete cohort and ensures that Asia will have its best ever representation at these Games. Host nation China’s 96 para athletes makes them the largest team in Beijing. They will compete in all six sports for the first time ever with their athletes entered into 73 of the 78 medal events.
Asian Paralympic Committee President Majid Rashed commented, “I’m delighted that we have such a strong contingent from Asia. We only made up 15% of the cohort in Vancouver so to have doubled this in Beijing is really pleasing. Having had the last two Winter Paralympic Games in our region has really helped to drive the growth of winter sports and I hope that this continues. On behalf of the Asian Paralympic family, I’d like to wish all our athletes the very best of luck.”
The sport starts tomorrow (Saturday 5 March) with the first twelve medals being decided in Para Alpine Skiing Downhill and Para Biathlon Sprint. China and Japan will be well represented in the Downhill competition with a total of 22 athletes competing. Japan’s sit-skiers have perhaps the best medal hopes with Momoka Muraoka in the women’s event and Kano Akira and Suzuki Takeshi in the men’s event. 25 year-old Muraoka won five medals in PyeongChang, including Silver in the Downhill event and so will be hoping to go one better this time around. She is captaining the Japanese team and this will be her second Paralympic Games in less than a year as she competed at the Tokyo Games in Para Athletics in the T54 100m coming sixth.
Elsewhere the Para Ice Hockey will start at the National Indoor Stadium, with China facing Slovakia in their first match in the preliminary round. At the Ice Cube, reigning Paralympic Champions China, led by their Skip Haitao Wang, will take on Canada in their first match in the round robin event. Before China’s victory in PyeongChang, Canada had won every Gold medal at the Paralympic Games since the sport was introduced in 2006 and so will be looking to regain their title this time around. The Republic of Korea team will meet Latvia in their first match.