Rio’s Paralympic Games Are History. And a Memorable One

Closing ceremonies of Rio Paralympics - Andre Motta/ Ministério do Esporte Rio’s Paralympic Games have officially ended in Rio de Janeiro with a mix of fireworks and samba. Brazilian musicians performed for guests and athletes at the Maracanã stadium, which was followed by a fireworks display.

A giant conga-line of athletes snaked around the stadium to the cheers of thousands of fans who danced in the stands to Brazilian funk music.

“The impossible happened. Brazilians never give up,” Carlos Nuzman, the president of the Rio 2016 organizing committee, said in a speech. He wished good luck to Tokyo, who will be the next city to host the games.

The president of the International Paralympic Committee, Philip Craven passed the Paralympic flag to the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike.

Closing ceremonies of Rio Paralympics - Andre Motta/ Ministério do Esporte

Missing though was Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer, who had been booed at the opening ceremony.

The ceremony also paid tribute with a minute of silence to Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died on Saturday from a cardiac arrest during a road race. This was the first tragedy of its kind in Paralympic Games history.

Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee president, described the Games as “uniquely Brazilian and wondrous” but admitted that Golbarnezhad’s death had cast a shadow over the event.

“Tonight is a celebration of the last 12 days of sport, but it’s also a very somber occasion following Saturday’s extremely tragic events,” said Craven.

“The passing of Bahman Golbarnezhad has affected us all and left the whole Paralympic movement united in grief.”

One of the highlights at the ceremony was Jonathan Bastos, a Brazilian who was born without arms yet is an accomplished musician, playing instruments with his feet.

Carlos Nuzman, President of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee, said that the Games had been a success despite the troubled build-up to the event.

With Brazil hit by political turmoil and recession, Mr. Nuzman conceded it had been a “mission of many doubts,” but was happy to declare the event as being “mission accomplished.”

A lack of interest in tickets ahead of the Games had raised fears of failure, but after heavily discounting the prices, officials said they sold 2.1 million, less than in London four years ago but more than in Beijing in 2008.

China topped the medal standings, becoming only the third country to win more than 100 gold medals at a single Paralympic Games.

China ranked first on the final medal tally with 239 medals—107 gold, 81 silver, and 51 bronze. The Great Britain came second with 147 medals in total, followed by Ukraine with 117, United States with 115, and Australia with 81 medals.

The Russian national team did not take part in the games. Russia was suspended from the Rio Paralympics by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in early August for failure to comply with the organization’s anti-doping rules.

Brazil stood 8th in Rio Paralympics with 72 medals—14 gold, 29 silver, and 29 bronze. Before the event, the goal set by the Brazilian Paralympic Committee was for Brazil to be in the top five. The country won more medals in athletics—33 in total. In swimming, the Brazilian athletes received 19 medals.

Despite having won more medals than in London 2012, this year Brazil stood at a worse position, because the country won fewer gold medals. In London, Brazil finished in 7th place with 43 medals—21 gold, 14 silver, and 8 bronze.

The 72 medals won by Brazil in Rio Paralympics improved the country’s position in Paralympics overall medal tables, going from 26th to 23rd place. In total, Brazil won 87 gold medals in the history of Paralympics, ahead of countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, and Finland.


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