Paralympics closes with cyclist tribute

Paralympics closes with cyclist tribute

Bahman Golbarnezhad

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was brought to a close inside a packed Maracana Stadium on Sunday evening.

Singers, dancers and fireworks lit up the iconic stadium before tributes were paid to Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died on Saturday.

Sir Philip Craven, International Paralympic Committee president, said the movement was “united in grief”.

Referring to the success of the Games, Craven said the Rio Paralympics were “uniquely Brazilian and wondrous”.

Craven had earlier passed the Paralympic flag between the mayor of Rio and governor of Tokyo, the Japanese capital city where the next Games will be held in 2020.

Cyclist Golbarnezhad’s death is the first in competition at a summer Olympics or Paralympics since Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen in the 100km team time trial at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

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

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

As well as the closing ceremony tribute, flags were lowered to half-mast as Iran won gold on Sunday afternoon in the sitting volleyball gold-medal match against Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the final events of the Games.

Flags have also been lowered around the Paralympic village.

An investigation into the crash has begun, the IPC said.

His speech thanked organisers, athletes and spectators and he was warmly applauded when bestowing the Paralympic Order on the Brazilian city – his organisation’s highest honour.

Standing alongside Craven, Carlos Nuzman, the president of the Rio 2016 organising committee, was cheered when he exclaimed: “Mission accomplished.

“The Brazil we love so much has shown the world what it can do. This celebration started with a dream. It was 20 years in the making. Many thought it was impossible. But not for Rio and Brazil.


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