NEWS
24/08/2021 15:36 BST | Updated 24/08/2021 15:36 BST

Tokyo Paralympics: 8 Unmissable Moments From The Opening Ceremony

Here are 8 memorable moments from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games opening ceremony that you might've missed.

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Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 24, 2021

From the amazing volunteer performances to the smiles on the athlete’s faces, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics opening ceremony was full of colour and excitement.

We were transported to the Para Airport as the Games were officially opened around the theme of ‘We Have Wings’. 

Let’s take a look at some of the stand out moments.

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The flag of Afghanistan is carried out at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

1. Remembering Afghanistan 

Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli were due to compete at the Tokyo Olympics but missed out because of the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.

They might not have been able to make the competition itself but they certainly weren’t forgotten as the flag of Afghanistan lead the way ahead of the other countries.

Afghanistan-born swimmer, Abbas Karimi, will be competing for the Refugee Paralympic Team.

The opening ceremony also took place on the same day as Boris Johnson’s virtual meeting with G7 leaders on the Taliban’s recent takeover of Afghanistan.

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Names of athletes are displayed on the tiers between empty seats inside the Olympic Stadium.

2. Athletes’ names projected around the stadium

The seats inside Japan’s National Stadium might’ve been empty but the stadium soon filled up with the 4,400 Paralympic athletes and it was a vibe.

Their names were all displayed through a projection on the central band going around the stadium as each of the 160 countries came out.

Nice touch Japan, nice touch. 

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Athletes from Team Spain take part in the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

3. Spain brought the party

One of the largest delegates of athletes to come out during the parade, Spain were also one of the most enthusiastic.

New Zealand was one of the countries who decided not to attend, while other countries chose to send fewer athletes to the parade because of coronavirus worries.

But the mood was especially lifted when countries like Spain, Venezuela and France showed up together in their larger numbers. 

Lintao Zhang via Getty Images
An entertainer performs during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

4. Speaking of party...

Let’s not forget there’s no party without an amazing DJ and this one really put in the work to keep everyone moving.

And for that, we love him!

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Athletes from Team Israel enter the stadium during the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

5. The guide dog that stole the show

As proud as the athletes were walking out onto this world stage, Israel’s guide dog captured everyone’s hearts with its strut.

It’s worth remembering that for some of the athletes, the guides that attend the Games with them are not just there for them during that time but are a part of their lives outside of sport so it was truly a special moment. 

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Athlete Samira Eram of Team Iran takes a selfie as she makes way to the opening ceremony.

6. One step closer for gender equality

It was clear to see that for many countries marching through the stadium, the gender split between male and female athletes was reaching closer to being 50/50.

Tunisia is one of the countries at the Paralympics that have more female athletes than men.

And team USA join them by sending 122 women and 120 men to the Games.

More generally, the sporting world still has lots to do for representation and diversity but it’s a change we are all glad to be seeing. 

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The Paralympic flag is brought in during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium.

7. A thank you to essential workers

Key workers who were essential to countries around the world during the coronavirus pandemic were remembered in two moments either end of the parade.

A Japanese rescue worker helped bring out the national flag at the start of the ceremony and several others brought out the IPC flag towards the end in a heartwarming part of the ceremony.

A small thank you that will hopefully go a long way.

Lintao Zhang via Getty Images
Performers welcome athletes into the National Stadium for the opening ceremony.

8. And we can’t forget those hats

There were plenty of fashion moments throughout the ceremony but one that will be remembered were the purple and white outfits including questionable hats worn by the Japanese volunteers welcoming athletes into the stadium.

Don’t think they’ll be selling out anytime soon.