Written by By Nancy Attwood, CNN By Nancy Attwood, CNN
Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics issued a heartfelt plea for peace, ethics and human rights at the ceremony in central Tokyo on Friday.
While opening ceremonies are often about celebrating the athletes, this one highlighted the human struggles faced by athletes with disabilities — both in the past and in the present.
“We, the Paralympic Movement, who come from a long tradition of resistance, feel compelled to be the voice of those who can’t speak,” said Abei Shirayanagi, chairwoman of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games organizing committee, and chief spokesperson for the ceremony.
Closing the ceremony, Paralympic champion Usain Bolt, dressed in traditional Japanese attire, took the stage and urged the crowd to “press on” in the “spirit of Paralympic values.”
Miyoko Kuwahara, during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Credit: Alex Hofford/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
The night’s grand finale involved a seven-story transparent wheelchair downing mannequins covered in black, then racing through the main stadium in the athletes’ uniform.
It was an impressive performance by gymnast Miyoko Kuwahara, a sumo wrestler who uses a wheelchair and paralyzed quadriplegic swimmer Andrew Ruiter, who is the only racer on the track.