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Putin Opens Winter Paralympics in Sochi

Published: March 8, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • Fireworks at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Sochi.
    Photo: Maxim Bogodvid / © RIA Novosti

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the 11th Paralympic Winter Games open Friday at a grandiose opening ceremony in Sochi.

The Games, the first to be held in Russia, will feature 547 athletes from 45 countries across nine days of competition on the Black Sea coast and in the Caucasus Mountains.

Related: Medvedev Urges Sochi Organizers 'Not to Relax' Ahead of Paralympics

“I declare open the Winter Paralympic Games 2014, Sochi,” Putin said.

In a statement issued by organizers, Putin added: “Sochi 2014 will gather a record number of athletes representing the Paralympic movement.”

“And we will do everything we can to make every one of them feel at home in Russia, among close friends, so that they can show their skills, athletic character and conquer new heights.”

Related: Sochi Paralympics Herald Sea Change for Russia’s Disabled – IPC

In a lavish ceremony themed around the concepts of unity and inclusiveness, disabled performers played prominent roles as singers and dancers.

Oscar-winning animator Alexander Petrov provided regular hand-drawn interludes featuring the firebird, a magical creature from Russian fairytale, while another Oscar laureate, Mexico’s Eugenio Caballero, oversaw set design.

During the parade of athletes from the competing nations, only a single flag-bearer represented the Ukrainian team, which said earlier in the day that it would not stage a boycott over unrest in its home country.

“Together you are the catalysts for change. You have the ability to change perceptions and alter attitudes like no other,” International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven told athletes.

“You will leave as role models, heroes, pioneers and, most of all, proud Paralympians.”

The ceremony ended with a vast model icebreaker cruising through the Fisht Olympic Stadium, symbolising the breaking down of barriers at the Paralympics.

The Paralympic cauldron in the park outside the stadium was lit by two Russian Paralympic icons, two-time gold medal-winning swimmer Olesya Vladykina and Sergei Shilov, a six-time gold medalist in cross-country skiing.

The Paralympics run through March 16 and feature 72 medal events in five sports, the highest number for any Winter Paralympics to date.

To date, 283,000 tickets have been sold for the Sochi Paralympics, organizers said earlier in the day. That is about 50,000 more than the Winter Games record set by Vancouver in 2010.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the opportunity to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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