Javelin thrower Tek Chand led India's largest-ever Paralymic contingent at the opening ceremony of the delayed Tokyo 2020 edition at the Japan National Stadium on Tuesday. A record 54 athletes, participating across nine sports disciplines, will represent India at the Games this year as the country looks to better its best-ever medals tally from the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Watch Tek Chand lead the Indian contingent here:
Tek Chand replaced high-jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu, a gold medallist from the 2016 Rio Games, as the flag-bearer after the latter came in close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient during their flight to Tokyo.
As many as six Indian athletes have been quarantined until further in Tokyo after coming in close contact and were withdrawn from the opening ceremony. However, they are expected to participate in their respective events as they have tested negative for the virus.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will feature 4,403 athletes competing in 539 medal events across 22 sports. The Games will be held from August 24 to September 5.
The 2550 male and 1583 female athletes competing at the Tokyo 2020 edition makes this the biggest-ever contingent of athletes to participate at the Paralympic. With 4,328 athletes, Rio was the previous record holder.
Meanwhile, Tokyo is the only city int he world to host the Paralympic Games twice, having previously hosted it in 1964.
The opening ceremony is set in a "Para airport", which is a symbol of diversity and inclusion. It began with a video that paid homage to the strength of the Paralympians. The video started with a gentle breeze that turned into a gust and swept across the stadium's field of play.
Before the ceremony, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons and Japanese Emperor Naruhito were welcomed to the stadium. This was followed by six individuals - including Kaori Icho, four-times Olympic freestyle wrestling champion and Takumi Astani, a rescue worker - carrying the Japanese flag to the stage.