2018 Winter Paralympic Games starts with opening ceremony
The 2018 Winter Paralympic Games started Friday with the opening ceremony in PyeongChang, an east county of South Korea where the 23rd Winter Olympics was held last month.
A photo shows artists performing during the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Winter Games in the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, PyeongChang, South Korea, 09 March 2018. [Photo: IC]
The ceremony to open the Winter Paralympics, scheduled to last till March 18, was held under the theme of "passion," which the organizers said is the source of energy driving Paralympians to move and creates the world of coexistence.
It was held at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, a main stadium built only for the opening and closing ceremonies, seeking to symbolize the new world of coexistence where there is no distinction of people by impairment but the recognition of differences.
The opening ceremony performance began with a video, showing a countdown with a red thermometer symbolizing the burning passion and drive of the athletes who have long waited for the competition. The thermometer mercury on the ground started to boil, running toward the "Passion Point" 0 degrees Celsius.
An amputee performer with a prosthetic arm and legs beat on a giant drum to welcome the athletes and spectators from all around the world. It was followed by a newly interpreted bin-rye, a traditional percussion performance.
The royal court of Korea, since the ancient times, welcomed important guest visits with the welcome ceremony bin-rye, full of various sounds of drums which also embodies the passion and ardent hears of the athletes.
Traditional welcome dances followed. Dancers, dressed in the Korean traditional costume Hanbok, danced elegantly and sophisticatedly to drum beats. The dances and drum beats have the meaning of connecting the heaven, earth and mankind together.
The flag of the host country, South Korea, was transported along the frozen waterway, called the Dong River colored with the flag symbols displayed on the ground. It was hoisted while the national anthem of South Korea was sung by singers with an impairment and all wheelchair-choir.
Athletic delegations from the participating nations and regions made their entry in the order of the Korean consonants. Athletes trailed placards, made of metals inspired by Sotdae, an ancient Korean symbol of birds, trees and cloths that signifies good news and prosperity.
The PyeongChang Paralympics brought 570 athletes from 49 countries and regions around the world, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that participated in the Winter Paralympics for the first time.
South Korea hosted the second Paralympic Games in 30 years, after hosting the Seoul Summer Paralympics in 1988. The 1988 event was the first Paralympics to be held in the same city at about the same time as the Olympic Games.
Another artistic performance followed, with a girl with a visual impairment, dressed in red coat, realizing her dream.
The girl, who cannot see but can draw a world of infinite imaginations, entered the stage and drew on the East Sea projected on the ground. Her drawings of numerous fish and animals, which resemble the primitive rock carvings, came to life, swimming and running in rich colors.
The PyeongChang Paralympic mascot Bandabi glided on the snowfield on a snowboard and handed over a pair of earmuffs to the girl. When the girl put on the earmuffs, children ran out to play in the white land of PyeongChang unfolding in front of the girl.
The metal sculpture, called Para-boat, moved forward. The girl embarked on the boat, which rose into the air with the dreams and hopes of everyone. Children and dancers filled the ground, dancing to the song with sign language movements.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared the opening of the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games, followed by the hoisting of the Paralympic flag by promising future Paralympians and the swearing of the oath by three representatives from athletes, officials and coaches each.
The third artistic performance followed, with the "Wheel of Passion" rolling onto the center of the stage. The wheel, which symbolizes passion leading to equality and harmony, created the wave of passion connecting to each other like a network and coming together to become a giant shape.
New performers, which represent new passion and generation, took the stage and interacted with each other. They centered around each six wheelchairs, creating moving spirals. It symbolized an enormous energy that can overcome any obstacles.
The spirals merged into one giant circle, and the wheel in the center of the stage rose into the air. The wheel was engulfed by four petals of courage, determination, inspiration and equality.
The Paralympic torch, which had travelled all around South Korea, entered the stadium, and was handed over from one bearer to another to run around the stadium. The flame was finally lit into a cauldron, which has the shape of a Moon jar, a white porcelain resembling the full moon.
The finale was performed by singers, including Jo Sumi and male duo Clon. Jo is a world-renowned classical singer with a prefix of a "God-given voice."
The Clon is a South Korean male duo who debuted in 1996. One of the singers became paralyzed from waist down following a motorcycle accident. Since then, the member pursued a new career as a choreographer, enjoying the second prime of his career.