KUALA LUMPUR, 26 Oct - The Asian Youth Para Games, featuring over 1,200 athletes and officials from 30 countries, was officially declared open by the Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia, Khairy Jamaluddin, in a simple but memorable opening ceremony at the Putra Stadium today.
International Paralympic Committee President, Sir Philip Craven, Paralympic Council of Malaysia Patron, Tun Jeanne Abdullah and Asian Paralympic Committee President, Dato' Zainal Abu Zarin, were among the other dignitaries who graced today's grand opening.
A total of 30 countries will be participating in the third edition of the Games which is the biggest ever in the history of this multi-sports extravaganza. The previous edition in Tokyo in 2009 offered five sports.
"A total of 14 sports will be contested here this time. This is a significant increase from the 2009 Games in Tokyo. That shows the Games are only growing in stature and a trend I hope continues," said Khairy in his speech.
"It is my hope that the masses will have a better understanding of para sports and the Paralympic philosophy," commented the Minister of Youth and Sports.
He went on to address the youth of Asia. "It's great to see the spirit and the burning desire present in our young athletes here today. This is where a lot of you will realize your dreams, forge new friendships, and make the impossible, possible."
"Winning is important and I know that's what athletes like you have trained very hard for. Everyone wants to win a gold medal. However, for all of you to be here, competing against some of the best in Asia tells me that all of you are winners. Continue striving for excellence in both sports and life."
Following the declaration of the opening by the minister, the Games torch was jointly lit by several Malaysian athletes against a backdrop of a mini fireworks display. Some entertainment followed featuring leading Malaysian athletes.