2016 Rio Paralympics opening ceremony set after chaotic build-up | Nigeria News Today. Your online Nigerian Newspaper


Thousands of fans and athletes will open the Rio Paralympics at a gala ceremony on Thursday where organisers hope to draw a line under a chaotic build-up.

A Russian doping scandal and claims that the athletes' classification system is being manipulated have made for a rocky start for the Games, which were also hit by serious financial concerns and worries over ticket sales.

But less than three weeks after the flame went out on South America's first Olympics, Rio welcomes 4,300 Paralympians hoping to pull another successful event out of the fire.

Russian athletes, who finished second behind China in the London 2012 medals table, were last month barred from the 12-day Games by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) following a World Anti-Doping Agency report which alleged a vast state-sponsored doping program.

The 264-strong British team, described as the 'best prepared' to attend a Games, will be hunting medals across 19 sports, looking to improve on the 120 won at London 2012.

Despite half-empty venues dogging last month's Olympics, Rio 2016 Paralympic organisers said that 1.5 million tickets had been sold and they hope that all 2.5 million will go.

Top stars in Rio include Iranian powerlifter Siamand Rahman, Britain's wheelchair racer David Weir and China's blind sprinter Liu Cuiqing.

Two new events, canoe-kayak and triathlon, make their appearance on the 22-sport menu, with competitors from 161 nations.

Six countries are sending athletes for the very first time, and Syrian swimmer Ibrahim Al-Hussein, who lost a leg in an explosion in his nation's civil war, and Iranian discus thrower Shahrad Nasajpour make up a two-strong refugee team.

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