The 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio got off to a spectacular start this evening (7 September) as 4,300 athletes from 159 countries took part in the opening ceremony, held at the Maracanã Stadium.
At the start of the evening Aaron 'Wheelz' Fotheringham sped down a huge slope in his wheelchair before leaping through a giant "0" and into a giant inflatable, setting the tone for a spectacular evening.
A celebration of the wheel followed, backed by Brazilian Salsa bands and illuminated by a stunning light display. The pitch them transformed into a series of themes including swimming pool, beach and Brazilian flag.
However, like the Games in August (2016), the build-up to the Paralympics was troubled, following controversy over Russia's blanket ban, worryingly low ticket sales and rows about athlete classifications, with some disabled athletes voicing concerns over who was eligible to compete in some of the sports contested.
Poor ticket sales dogged the build-up to the Paralympic Games, and three weeks before the games, only 12 per cent of tickets had reportedly been sold. Now, however, 1.6 million of 2.5 million tickets have been sold and the opening ceremony appeared to be well attended.
However the issue of drug cheats has been the biggest concern. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) imposed a blanket ban on all Russian athletes, meaning none could take part even if they were clean.
Russia appealed unsuccessfully against the ban but repercussions continued to be felt at the opening ceremony when it became known that IOC chief Thomas Bach would miss the show. Some suggested it was because of the decision to ban Russia, while others suggested it was linked to an alleged ticket scam. Officially Bach was attending a funeral in Germany.
Despite all the problems, the opening ceremony was well-attended, clever and moving, and bodes well for the rest of the Games over the coming 10 days. The closing ceremony takes place on Sunday 18 September. Find out more here.