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The key moments from the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics

It has been a five-year wait but the Tokyo Paralympic Games are underway.

Like the Olympic Games opening ceremony a month ago, the COVID-19 pandemic diluted the celebration in Tokyo on Tuesday night. 

There were no fans in the 68,000 capacity Olympic Stadium, Australia sent just their flag bearers while New Zealand sent no athletes to the ceremony.  

But organisers put on a show which encapsulated the Paralympic movement.

If you missed it, or couldn’t quite make it through all three hours, here are the key moments.

Australia’s small but powerful entrance

Danni di Toro and Ryley Batt entering the Paralympics opening ceremony.

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AP: Eugene Hoshiko

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There were only two athletes from Australia who went to the opening ceremony but they made the most of it. 

Flag bearers Danni di Toro and Ryley Batt bowed as they entered the stadium before joining the parade of athletes. 

They were not alone, joined by Australia’s Paralympic chef de mission Kate McLoughlin as they made their way around the arena.

Batt was hooked up to a microphone for Channel 7’s broadcast and said the pair were there to represent every Australian who has ever competed for  the country at the Paralympics.

“Very proud moment right now coming out in the stadium,” Batt said during the Channel 7 broadcast.

“The stands are empty but we know we have the whole mob behind us.

“All 1044 current Olympians, present, past and the future.”

The one-winged plane takes flight

Young girl in a wheel chair performs interpretive dance.
The inspirational story of the one-winged plane sets the scene for the Paralympic Games.(

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The theme of the Tokyo Paralympic Games is, We Have Wings. 

Throughout the ceremony, the stadium was referred to as the Para Airport with the opening performance theatrically creating the wind needed for flight. 

This fed into the main series of performances which told the story of the one-winged plane who wanted to fly.  

The story was told through dance and music, with the role of the one-winged plane played by a 13-year-old heroine. 

The story contained plenty, including dance, violin music and a rock and roll bus — we will get to that in a minute. 

The story goes through the heroine’s want to fly, doubting herself before taking inspiration from other planes which have different abilities like her.

The climax of the story arrives when the one-winged plane takes flight — an inspirational metaphor for the Games ahead. 

Kill Bill guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei makes an appearance

A guitarist plays while surrended by other performers.
Japanese guitar legend Tomoyasu Hotei performs during the opening ceremony.(

Getty Images: Buda Mendes

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Japanese musician Tomoyasu Hotei, famous for writing the theme song to the movie Kill Bill, performed during the ceremony. 

He arrived on a bus — which was playing didgeridoo music — to inspire the one-winged plane. 

The performance was full of energy and built up to the end of the performance. 

Flashing lights, electric guitar, and rock music. 

It was the opposite of the rest of the performance and it worked really well. 

#WeThe15 campaign

It is being labeled as the “sport’s biggest ever human rights movement to end discrimination”.

The 15 references the 1.2 billion people in the world with disabilities, 15 per cent of the population.

The campaign was launched at the opening ceremony and aims to raise awareness of the barriers which people with disabilities face.

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Andrew Parson, the International Paralympic Committee President, said this Paralympic Games was focussed on challenging the way society perceives and treats people with disabilities.

“The Paralympic Games are for sure a platform for change but every four years is not enough.

“It is up to each and every one of us to play our party every day to make for a more inclusive society, in our countries, in our cities, in our communities.”

The cauldron is lit by three

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There were three Paralympic torches that entered the stadium to light the cauldron.

Having three torches instead of one signified a more inclusive community coming together. 

The torches made their way around the stadium before coming to the final three torchbearers, Yui Kamiji, Shunsuke Uchida and Karin Morisaki.

The hydrogen-powered cauldron is the first one of its kind used in the Paralympic Games and the night’s final image was it being lit.

Can I re-watch the opening ceremony?

Fireworks explode over a stadium at night.
Fireworks with colours representing the world exploding over the stadium.(

Getty Images: Alex Pantling

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You can catch up on all the big bits on 7Plus, as well as stream dozens of Paralympic sports live and free.

Seven’s free-to-air channels are showing the Games throughout the next couple of weeks as well.


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