Tokyo Paralympics kicked off on Tuesday with a vibrant opening ceremony.
Qatar’s para-athletes Abdulrahman Abdulqadir Fiqi and Sara Hamdi Masoud raised the country’s flag at the Paralympics opening ceremony in Tokyo.
The ceremony was held in the Japanese capital on Tuesday evening amid a surge in Covid-19 cases that had raised concerns over a potential delay.
“I cannot believe we are finally here. Many doubted this day would happen,” said President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Andrew Parsons in his Opening Ceremony speech.
The tournament is expected to run till 5 September and will include swimming, table tennis, wheelchair fencing and basketball with over 4,000 athletes participating.
“Many thought it impossible. But thanks to the efforts of many, the most transformative sport event on Earth is about to begin.
“We want to change the entire world.”
Due to the pandemic, the Paralympic Games were postponed last year to prevent the spread of the virus among athletes.
Abdulrahman, a former world champion who has already represented Qatar in two Paralympic Games, will compete in the men’s shot put – F34.
Sara, who won a silver medal at the Rio Games, will compete in the shot put – F33.
“A lot of time has gone staying indoors, waiting for this pandemic to end. I am aiming to get the gold at the Tokyo Games. I do not know what will happen, but I am confident and hopeful of winning the gold medal,” said Abdulrahman, who won a silver medal in Rio 2016.
“My preparations for this year’s Games in the Japanese city are very much on track and I want to improve on my showing from Brazil. I’m determined to do that,” he added.
New Zealand has opted out of the ceremony in line with its own Covid-19 protocols.
Tokyo has witnessed a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks that prompted the government to extend a state of emergency till 12 September.