Belarus Paralympics Opening Ceremony
A member of the Belarus contingent at the back carries a Russian flag into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 ParalympicsReuters

The festive spirit of the Rio 2016 Paralympics opening ceremony was dampened by the Belarus team, who held a protest against the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), after their decision to invoke a blanket ban on Russia.

Following some wonderful action, performances and fireworks, the mood was soured a little when the Belarus contingent walked into the Maracana Stadium carrying a Russian flag.

The flag was quickly confiscated, and the Belarus team will, most likely, face sanction from the IPC.

Apart from that blemish, though, the opening ceremony was one to savour, even if the Brazil president Michel Temer was roundly booed by the audience at the stadium, three-quarters full, despite concerns about interest in the Paralympics.

One of the major concepts of the opening ceremony was visioning a world where disabled people are treated equally, and that inclusivity theme was felt right through the event, with the wheelchair being used on quite a few occasions. One of the wheelchair stunts took the breath away, when a performer rode down a slide and jumped through a hole to much applause.

Rio 2016 Paralympics Opening Ceremony
The Paralympics in Rio was given liftoff courtesy a spectacular Opening CeremonyReuters

Sir Philip Craven, the IPC president, also gave the opening ceremony speech, calling for people of Brazil and the world to band together, and embrace the Rio 2016 Paralympics, where the human spirit is on show at its fullest.

"One hundred and ninety four years ago, Prince Dom Pedro I declared Brazil's independence and tonight marks another new dawn in this country's colourful and proud history," Craven said in his speech on Wednesday.

"The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will bring a new perspective to everyone in this country by showing that the human spirit knows no limits.

"Over the next 12 days, through the performances of Paralympians, you will see the true meaning of sport and the true definition of ability. You will witness how Paralympic sport has the ability to inspire an individual, and the outstanding capacity to transform communities, countries and continents."

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