The 9th Asean Para Games has officially started with the lighting of the cauldron at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Sunday night.
The ceremony kicked off at 8.30 pm with a display of silat and taekwondo moves, and a show by the Malaysian Armed Forces.
Following the arrival of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, a minute of silence was observed for the late Kedah Sultan Tuanku Abdullah Halim and the passing of 23 victims in the Darul Quran Ittifaqih Tahfiz Centre fire.
Najib proclaimed the games open while Malaysian powerlifting champion Sharifah Raudzah Syed Akil and technical advisor of badminton Teo Kian Joo took the oath of sportsmanship on behalf of the athletes.
Besides popular singer Yuna, who sang ‘Rescue’ accompanied with a mix of disabled and able-bodied musicians, performers from The Beautiful Gate Foundation, Persatuan Syndrome Down Malaysia, United Voice Self Advocacy of Persons with Learning Disabilities Selangor, and Kanak-kanak Cacat Taman Megah also took centre stage.
The crowd roared when flag bearers 2016 Paralympics gold medalist for long jump Mohamad Ridzuan Puzi, shot put champion Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli, and long jump winner Abdul Latif Romly made an appearance.
The climax of the Asean Para Games opening was the dramatic lighting of the cauldron by Hasihin Sanawi, archery bronze medalist for London’s Paralympic 2012 Games.
Flanked by four peers, he carried the torch into the stadium and proceeded towards a trough. After lighting the trough, it was then lifted up via a pulley system using the physical strength of the athletes to the top of the cauldron in the form of a giant torch.A vibrant pyrotechnic display followed the cauldron lighting.
Besides Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam are taking part in the Para Games until Sept 23.
Malaysia is targeting 103 gold medals.