The Tokyo Paralympics is officially underway as the Opening Ceremony took place Tuesday night with colourful scenes and touching moments.

Australia was represented by flag bearers Danni Di Toro and Ryley Batt with no other athletes present, and Aotearoa/New Zealand had no athletes at the ceremony. 

Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said the decision not to send Australian athletes into the ceremony was made weeks ago.

“While it’s a decision I didn’t want to have to make, it’s one we made to keep the athletes safe and to make sure they did get to the start line,” she said.

“It just got down to the fact that we’re here to compete, we’re here to perform for Australia.

“It’s far from ideal. Safety is our number one priority for this team.”

One moment that had everyone talking was when Afghanistan’s flag was carried into the stadium by a volunteer due to athletes not being able to compete.

A campaign was launched at the Opening Ceremony called #WeThe15 which aims to raise awareness of the barriers people with disabilities face.

The 15 is in reference to the 1.2 billion people in the world with disabilities, which is 15 per cent of the population.

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said this years Paralympic Games is focused 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 part every day to make for a more inclusive society, in our countries, in our cities, in our communities.”

Our Indigenous athlete Amanda Reid is set to make her appearance over the weekend with track cyclist Reid aiming for the gold in the 500m time trial and breaking her own record.

Dunghutti woman and a two-time Paralympian Torita Blake has since pulled out of Tokyo due to injury.

By Teisha Cloos

 

*Editor’s note: This article has been amended to reflect Torita Blake’s withdrawal from the Tokyo Paralympics.