Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games – let the games begin!

The Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games kicked off with a colourful and vibrant Opening Ceremony launched by the Republic of Korean Prime Minister Chung Hung Won at Munhak Stadium here tonight.

In a colorful laser light shows and presentation which carries the theme “Impossible Drive Us”, the ceremony witnessed by some thousands of spectators in the stadium, marked the start of an exciting “Para journey” for some 2,500 athletes from 41 Asian nations.

Following the opening proclamation by the Prime Minister, Incheon skies were filled with colourful and fireworks as the Para Games flame was lighted up by Korean Para and sporting heroes, marking the start the 7-days action which will see athletes vying for honours and excellence in 23 sports.

The ceremony was also attended by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven. Other dignitaries include Ministers, top officials and dignitaries from participating countries.

APC President Dato Zainal Abu Zarin, in his speech, paid tribute to the Korean government, authority and citizens of Incheon for their unwavering commitment in organising the Games, which took place some two weeks after the conclusion of the Asian Games

“Here in Incheon, we will witness the magic of Para sporting action. Indeed, a WAVE OF PASSION, begins now! To be able to be here, to be among Asia’s best, is a feat in itself. To everyone who have made it to Incheon, congratulations,” said Dato Zainal in his speech which was telecast live.

“The people of Incheon…we salute you for your deep passion, your continuous support towards this Games. We can clearly see and feel your sincere passion and great dynamism. This is the moment for you to show your enthusiasm and spirit of togetherness to the world.

Dato Zainal praised athletes for overcoming their challenges, urging them to fulfill their dream, achievement, and display their abilities and inspire the world with their feat.

Earlier, the Incheon Asian Para Games Organising Committee (IAPGOC) Kim Sung IL paid tribute to all who were involved in the Games preparation which includes the hundreds of volunteers.

Close to 2500 athletes and more than 1000 officials from 41 National Paralympic Councils will be involved in 23 sports throughout the seven days of competition. From this list of 23, the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games features four new sports – lawn bowls, sailing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair dance sport – compared to the Guangzhou 2010 edition.

The 23 sports to be contested are archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, football 5-a-side, football 7-a-side, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis already have a strong following worldwide and are expected to draw the crowds. Four non-Paralympic sports of badminton, lawn bowls, tenpin bowling and wheelchair dance sport are steadily gaining popularity among sports enthusiasts. All in, a total 6,196 participants which include athletes, officials, media representatives and top officials from 41 countries are taking part in the Games. Korea last hosted the Games (then FESPIC Games) in Busan in 2002. Host Korea formed the biggest contingent with 328 athletes followed by Japan (301), China (229), Thailand (201) and Iran (202).

Athletics drew the biggest number of participation of 562 athletes followed by swimming (245 athletes).

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