© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Photos: What The Paralympics Opening Ceremony Looked Like

Flag bearers Melissa Stockwell and Charles Aoki of Team United States lead their delegation in the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Buda Mendes
/
Getty Images
Flag bearers Melissa Stockwell and Charles Aoki of Team United States lead their delegation in the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Athletes from around the world wound their way through Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, wearing masks and waving to a largely empty stadium, accompanied by performers and upbeat music.

NBCSN will rebroadcast the ceremony Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET.

The stands were largely empty at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.
Sam Barnes / Sportsfile via Getty Images
/
Sportsfile via Getty Images
The stands were largely empty at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.

The "Parade of Athletes" was lead by the Refugee Paralympic Team, a six-member delegation that organizers say represents "the more than 82 million people around the world who have been forced to flee war, persecution, and human rights abuses, 12 million of whom live with a disability."

Members of the Refugee Paralympic Team participate in the parade of nations during the opening ceremony.
Buda Mendes / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Members of the Refugee Paralympic Team participate in the parade of nations during the opening ceremony.

The teams range in size from a single athlete to more than 250 competitors.

Flag bearers Yanina Andrea Martinez and Rodolfo Ramirez of Team Argentina lead their delegation in the parade of athletes.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Flag bearers Yanina Andrea Martinez and Rodolfo Ramirez of Team Argentina lead their delegation in the parade of athletes.

A total of 4,403 athletes are taking part in the international competition getting underway Tuesday, according to the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

That bests the previous record for athletes competing in the Paralympics of 4,328 set in Rio in 2016.

Athletes from Team Israel enter the stadium during the parade of athletes.
Buda Mendes / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Athletes from Team Israel enter the stadium during the parade of athletes.

Among those competing in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, 1,853 are women, another record. Previously, Rio 2016 had the most female athletes with 1,671.

Members of Team Iran pose during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
/ Alex Davidson/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee
/
Alex Davidson/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee
Members of Team Iran pose during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Team USA was one of the last to enter the stadium because it is hosting the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The 240 U.S athletes include 21 with military affiliations (three of whom are active duty). The flag-bearers are Melissa Stockwell, a veteran and a Parlympic bronze-medalist; and Chuck Aoki, a two-time Paralympic medalist and member of the Athletes' Advisory Council. Read more about them here.

Afghanistan's Paralympic team is unable to compete since the Taliban took control of the country and airports have been slammed with people frantically trying to flee. In a show of solidarity, a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees carried the Afghanistan flag during the parade.

The flag of Afghanistan is presented by volunteers at the Paralympics.
/ Marcus Brandt/picture alliance via Getty Images
/
Marcus Brandt/picture alliance via Getty Images
The flag of Afghanistan is presented by volunteers at the Paralympics.

The opening ceremony included a performance that served as an ode to movement, even in the face of headwinds. The story featured a one-winged plane, played by 13-year-old Wago Yui, who doesn't think she can fly but is shown by other characters that she can symbolically fly.

NBC said many of the performers had never acted before, including the central character.

Wago Yui performs the role of a one-winged airplane that learns to symbolically fly during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Buda Mendes / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Wago Yui performs the role of a one-winged airplane that learns to symbolically fly during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.


Reporting for this story originally appeared in the Morning Edition liveblog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tags

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for NPR.org and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.