Colour, excitement and unity - Paralympics get underway


Everyone has a heart.

That was the message at the Maracana Stadium as the 2016 Paralympic Games officially opened in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.

A total of 161 nations entered the iconic venue, each led out with a piece of a puzzle, which came together to form one giant heartbeat.

And that summed up the colourful and passionate evening in the Brazilian city, uniting and celebrating 4,300 participants - two of those as independent athletes - from all walks of life.

There was a remarkable moment as the ceremony drew to a close, the crowd expressing their frustration during the speeches of Brazil president Michel Temer and Olympic Committee boss Carlos Arthur Nuzman amid political issues in the country.

But the night was largely one of celebration, from two sensational blind dancers to an exquisite solo performance from a lady on her two prosthetic legs, emphasising "we are all part of one world", before the flame for the 15th Paralympics was lit in inspirational scenes.

Staged from September 7-18, this year's Paralympics are being held in Latin America/South America for the first time, with two new sports introduced - canoeing and paratriathlon.