A Dazzling Celebration That Embraces Diversity
A Dazzling Celebration That Embraces Diversity
6,000 people from Singapore and neighbouring ASEAN community gathered at the Singapore Indoor Stadium to celebrate the mental and physical strengths of people of all abilities at the opening ceremony of the 8th ASEAN Para Games. Officially opened by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President, Republic of Singapore, the show left a lasting impression on everyone, including millions who watched it live on television and through the 8th ASEAN Para Games digital platforms.
Anchored and inspired by persons with disabilities, the ceremony involved more than 1,400 participants in an amazing display of light, sounds, dance and music to commence Singapore’s debut hosting of the region’s largest para-sport event.
In her address, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu highlighted the unique quality of sport. “Sport can bring out the champion in all of us. It also breaks down barriers and helps us to appreciate the talents of those with different abilities.” Ms Fu who is also the Chairperson of Singapore ASEAN Para Games Organising Committees (SAPGOC) added, “The ASEAN Para Games is not just a sporting competition. It is a milestone for every Singaporean, as we mark the start of a movement to build a more inclusive society.”
Dato Zainal Abu Zarin, President of the ASEAN Sports Federation (APSF), echoed the ethos of the Games as being a platform to not only showcase the incredible sportsmanship of the athletes but unite the region and inspire millions of audiences in Southeast Asia.
Dato Zainal shared, “The Games has brought positive impact on the overall Para movement in this region. From humble beginnings, we have scaled greater heights and have developed a track record for building a bridge, which links sport with social awareness. We will continue to pursue our cause to ensure that the Paralympic agenda be included in the sporting mainstream of the various national development programme.”
A unique synthesis of sports and arts
Embodying the spirit of the Games with the theme Celebrate the Extraordinary, the opening ceremony infused both sports and arts, with formal aspects of the official ceremony – from oath taking led by Team Singapore bowler Thomas Yong, to the torch relay; meticulously woven within five different movements of the show.
Movement 1: Stretches the Boundaries A choir and dance routine, inspired to stretch physical and mental boundaries, set against Kleopatra Korai’s breath-taking hand-drawn animation that introduces the 15 participating sports to be played at the Games.
Movement 2: A World of Creative Possibilities This unique act is credited to the combination of a young Opera singer and a group of dancers who are on their feet, on wheelchairs as well as up in the air, forming a magical carousal.
Movement 3: Shooting for the Best A pyrotechnic and artiste performance with a 75-member team comprising of emerging talents as well as established cultural workers.
Movement 4: Fire Your Imagination Let us celebrate sporting excellence, friendship and respect and understand what inspires our national sporting heroes and heroines.
Movement 5: Celebration of the Extraordinary The final movement ushers in the kaleidoscope of diversity and will see students from 15 special schools leading a dance of victory.
Says Chang En, a dancer from Anglo-Chinese Junior College who was a performer in Movement II of the opening ceremony, “I feel honoured to be involved as it is for an important cause. It is even more significant because the Games is held in our home country. Working with my new friends has taught me to appreciate what I have and to never stop believing in what I want to do. Although there may be many obstacles along the way, overcoming them will bring about great satisfaction. The human spirit can conquer every challenge.”
The ceremony concluded with the lighting of the 8th ASEAN Para Games Cauldron via a torch relay by seven local athletes – Kalai Vanen (Powerlifting), Benson Tan (Swimming), Aishah Samad (Shooting), Toh Wei Soong (Swimming) and Tay Wei Ming (Badminton). Tay joined final torch bearers, Yip Pin Xiu (Swimming), Aloysious Gan (Boccia) to light the cauldron to mark the start of the Games and the rousing celebrations to welcome the region’s athletes and officials.
A torch parade by the community to welcome the Games
Prior to the official opening ceremony, nearly 1,000 members of the community came together in a ceremonial torch parade to deliver the Games flame for the lighting of the cauldron during the opening ceremony.
The parade commenced from the Games Village at the Marina Bay Sands where the flame was first lit during the One Team Singapore Rally on 14 November 2015. The flame, a symbol of harmony and spirit of friendship, was passed between 16 community torch bearers along a 5.5km route before coming to rest at the Singapore Sports Hub.
These torch bearers were joined by Team NILA volunteers as well as members of the various corporate and community groups including Metta Welfare Association, Touch Community Services, Association of People with Special needs (ASPN), Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore (MINDS), YMCA, MediaCorp, FBT and Deloitte Singapore.
Royce Seah, board member of the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) and the first torch bearer for the parade said, “It is an honour to be part of the first ever ASEAN Para Games to be held in Singapore. It is heartening to see such tremendous support from the community for a para sport event. I am looking forward to supporting the athletes over the next 6 days of competition.”
Let the Games begin!
The 8th ASEAN Para Games officially opened today with a Cerebral Palsy football match between Singapore and Indonesia at the National Stadium. The week long Games will see more than 2,500 athletes and officials from 10 countries competing in 15 sports in competitions held over nine venues, with main clusters in the Singapore Sports Hub and the Marina Bay. Entry is free to all nine competition venues. The Games will come to an end with a closing ceremony at the Marina Bay Sands on 9 December 2015.
About the 8th ASEAN Para Games
The 8th ASEAN Para Games will be held from 3 to 9 December 2015, with Singapore Sports Hub as the main venue for the Games. The Games are held in conjunction with Singapore’s 50th anniversary and will host more than 3,000 athletes and officials from the region. Adopting the theme of Celebrate the Extraordinary, the Games aims to promote friendship and solidarity amongst persons with disabilities in the ASEAN region through Sports, to promote and develop Sports for the differently abled, and rehabilitate and integrate persons with disabilities into mainstream society through Sports.