20160908 Copyright onEdition 2016© Free for editorial use image, please credit: onEdition ParalympicsGB, the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games taking place in Rio De Janeiro. ParalympicsGB is the name for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Paralympic Team that competes at the summer and winter Paralympic Games. The Team is selected and managed by the British Paralympic Association, in conjunction with the national governing bodies, and is made up of the best sportsmen and women who compete in the 22 summer and 4 winter sports on the Paralympic Programme. For additional Images please visit: http://www.w-w-i.com/paralympicsgb_2016/ For more information please contact the press office via press@paralympics.org.uk or on +44 (0) 7717 587 055 If you require a higher resolution image or you have any other onEdition photographic enquiries, please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email info@onEdition.com This image is copyright onEdition 2016©. This image has been supplied by onEdition and must be credited onEdition. The author is asserting his full Moral rights in relation to the publication of this image. Rights for onward transmission of any image or file is not granted or implied. Changing or deleting Copyright information is illegal as specified in the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. If you are in any way unsure of your right to publish this image please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email info@onEdition.com

Copyright onEdition 2016© The opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games taking place in Rio De Janeiro.

Written by Barney Cullum 

Faith in the continuing appeal of the Paralympic Games was rewarded last night as over 50,000 ticket-holders flocked to fill Brazil’s most famous arena, the Maracana.

The opening ceremony was a true carnival, one that will be remembered for its warm light shows, tender Portuguese melodies and – perhaps more than anything else – its somersaulting wheelchair stunt performer.

Reinventing disability as unbreakability is nothing new of course. It has been fashionable since the last Games, London 2012. The ‘superhuman’ portrayal frustrates individuals who would rather have greater empathy, or practical support, than they would deferential adulation. But on the evidence of last night, and the exploits of Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham, an appetite remains elsewhere.

20160907 Copyright onEdition 2016© Free for editorial use image, please credit: onEdition ParalympicsGB, the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games taking place in Rio De Janeiro. ParalympicsGB is the name for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Paralympic Team that competes at the summer and winter Paralympic Games. The Team is selected and managed by the British Paralympic Association, in conjunction with the national governing bodies, and is made up of the best sportsmen and women who compete in the 22 summer and 4 winter sports on the Paralympic Programme. For additional Images please visit: http://www.w-w-i.com/paralympicsgb_2016/ For more information please contact the press office via press@paralympics.org.uk or on +44 (0) 7717 587 055 If you require a higher resolution image or you have any other onEdition photographic enquiries, please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email info@onEdition.com This image is copyright onEdition 2016©. This image has been supplied by onEdition and must be credited onEdition. The author is asserting his full Moral rights in relation to the publication of this image. Rights for onward transmission of any image or file is not granted or implied. Changing or deleting Copyright information is illegal as specified in the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. If you are in any way unsure of your right to publish this image please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email info@onEdition.com

Copyright onEdition 2016©
The opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games taking place in Rio De Janeiro.

It should be said that it’s not just choreographers and marketing types who have warmed to the superhuman theme. Paralympians generally seem flattered by the term. This debate was not resolved last night, but it wasn’t dwelled upon either.

The directors later invited us to question how much we use our sight over other senses, achieving this by flooding the arena with a huge flash of white light. A perfectly synchronised dance routine from two visually impaired dancers then reversed the rhetoric.

The ceremony was full of artistry. It was also, in its second half – as is customary – finally full of athletes. The stars of the Games have almost been lost over the last two months. Politics has dictated that we’ve heard more from the International Paralympic Committee of late than the Paralympians they support. That may change now, after yesterday’s rousing spectacle.

20160907 Copyright onEdition 2016© Free for editorial use image, please credit: onEdition ParalympicsGB, the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games taking place in Rio De Janeiro. ParalympicsGB is the name for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Paralympic Team that competes at the summer and winter Paralympic Games. The Team is selected and managed by the British Paralympic Association, in conjunction with the national governing bodies, and is made up of the best sportsmen and women who compete in the 22 summer and 4 winter sports on the Paralympic Programme. For additional Images please visit: http://www.w-w-i.com/paralympicsgb_2016/ For more information please contact the press office via press@paralympics.org.uk or on +44 (0) 7717 587 055 If you require a higher resolution image or you have any other onEdition photographic enquiries, please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email info@onEdition.com This image is copyright onEdition 2016©. This image has been supplied by onEdition and must be credited onEdition. The author is asserting his full Moral rights in relation to the publication of this image. Rights for onward transmission of any image or file is not granted or implied. Changing or deleting Copyright information is illegal as specified in the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. If you are in any way unsure of your right to publish this image please contact onEdition on 0845 900 2 900 or email info@onEdition.com

Copyright onEdition 2016© The opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games taking place in Rio De Janeiro.

The Brazil team received a proud cheer when they came out to complete a lap of the track at dusk, but so did Chile, Colombia… all the South American delegations. With this being the first Games on the continent, it bodes well that there are strong signs of pan-American interest.

Pubs and bars across Rio were showing the opening ceremony too. Although not universally popular, momentum has continued on from the Olympics in Brazil. There appears now to be a chance for the achievements of elite athletes – who happen to have disabilities – to be celebrated like never seen before in Latin America.