The 2016 Summer Paralympics opened at Rio's iconic Maracana Stadium on Wednesday evening, 17 days after the end of the Olympics.
Brazilian daily O Globo devoted its front page Thursday to the opening ceremony, with the headline "The Paralympics move the Maracana" alongside a picture of Amy Purdy dancing with a robotic arm. The American snowboarder, who had her legs amputated below the knee at age 19, stole the show as she performed a choreographed routine with the machine — a moment meant to represent harmony between humans and technology.
Some 500 professional staff, including performers, and 2,000 volunteers took part for the ceremony whose theme was "Everybody Has A Heart." More than 4,000 athletes representing 159 nations are set to compete in 528 medal events across 22 sports. Leading the parade was Ibrahim Al Hussein, a Syrian refugee who is part of the Independent Paralympic Athletes (IPA) Team at the Games.
The ceremony was also marked by the poor reception accorded to political figures: Organizing committee president Carlos Nuzman and President Michel Temer were booed, as Brazil has been plagued by political unrest after Dilma Rousseff was removed from office.
Another unexpected moment was when Belarusian athletes carried the Russian flag to express solidarity with the Russian team, RT reports. Russian athletes were banned from the event after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Association found evidence of widespread doping in the country.