Rio bids spectacular farewell to Paralympics

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/19 15:14:17

Rio de Janeiro drew the curtain on the Paralympic Games on Sunday with a dazzling closing ceremony dedicated to music, nature and awakening the senses.

A capacity crowd of around 50,000 people filled the Maracana stadium to bid goodbye to the Games, and the three-hour show kept them entertained with a captivating mix of dancers, musicians and eye-catching special effects.

The ceremony provided a potpourri of beats and melodies ranging from Brazilian samba, bossa nova and baiao, to rock, pop and funk.

The show kicked off when Brazilian pop artist Gaby Amarantos led local percussionists in a countdown that was accompanied by Afro-Brazilian musical rhythms maracatu and samba.

Musicians with hearing impairments were conducted by lights on a visual metronome, a creation of local artist Mestre Batman that teaches music through sign language. Colors denoted the force with which instruments were played, with white representing a stronger beat and green calling for a more subtle sound.

A video of the countdown was inspired by Burle Marx's artwork for Portuguese stone pavements, which adorn Rio's sidewalks.

Bahian guitarist Armandinho entered the stage, playing frevo, a fast tempo brass-dominated music genre from Brazil's northeastern state of Pernambuco. Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser then begun playing heavy metal, showing how the two styles could merge to form one harmonic sound.

They were joined by guitarist Johnatha Bastos, who was born without both arms and plays with his feet. Meanwhile a group of acrobats performed a range of daring manoeuvres.

A speech was then made by IPC president Philip Craven, a former Paralympic swimmer and wheelchair basketball player. In his speech Craven paid tribute to Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died while competing on Saturday.

"Tonight is a celebration of the last 12 days of sport but it's also a very somber occasion following Saturday's extremely tragic events," Craven said.

Blind tenor and pianist Saulo Lucas performed the national anthem while a graphic display showed a sky replete with stars, just like they appear on Brazil's flag. The audience used lights from their mobile phones to add to the effect of a star-spangled sky.

Some 160 flag bearers then entered the stadium, accompanied by some of the best athletes from their respective delegations while a spectacular fireworks display lit up the sky.

The next section was a tribute to how fauna and flora can happily coexist, regardless of their origins and differences. Brazilian band Nacao Zumbi, which is renowned for its work to protect the environment, played on a moving stage while a video showed the native plants and animals of Brazil.

Pop singer Vanessa da Mata and samba-jazz artist Ceu delivered thought-provoking performances while video images underline the importance of caring for the environment and preserving the world's biodiversity.

American middle-distance track athlete Tatyana McFadden and Syrian refugee Ibrahim Al Hussein were then awarded the Whang Youn Dai award, for putting "into motion the Paralympic spirit and the energy to overcome obstacles."

McFadden won four gold and two silver medals while Al Hussein competed here after losing the lower part of his right leg in a 2012 bomb blast.

After a performance by singer Saulo, a video showed some of the sporting highlights of the Games. The Paralympic anthem was played by local musicians Daniel Santiago, Pedro Martins and Mestrinho, imparting their own Brazilian influence on the arrangement.

The traditional host city transition was conducted when Rio's mayor Eduardo Paes presented the Paralympic flag to Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike. The Japanese flag was simultaneously hoisted alongside the Paralympic and Brazilian flags.

Following official speeches from Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman and Craven, people carrying pinwheels entered the stage. The group lined up in single files before spinning their pinwheels and creating a light gust of breeze that gently extinguished the Paralympic pyre. And as fireworks exploded into the sky, the Games were officially declared closed.

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