Fireworks mark close of Rio Paralympics


Rio has said farewell to the Paralympics with a closing ceremony that showcased Brazil’s love for music and celebrated what many think has been a surprisingly successful Games.

The famous Maracana stadium was packed, with Paralympians seated across the field as the event got under way with a fireworks display.

Britain finished second in the medals table behind China, winning a total of 147 medals – 64 of them gold.

The total easily surpasses the tally from London 2012, when Paralympics GB earned 120 medals.

One of the first performers at the ceremony was Jonathan Bastos, a Brazilian who was born without arms but has become an accomplished musician, playing instruments with his feet.

Then Ricardinho, the star of Brazil’s gold medal winning five-a-side Paralympic football team, brought out the national flag.

A minute’s silence was also held for the Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died on Saturday after crashing in the road race.

Organisers said they had pulled off an against the odds success with the Rio Games.

“Mission accomplished,” Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic organising committee said.

Referring to the political turmoil and recession weighing Brazil down as it put on the first Olympics in South America, Mr Nuzman conceded it had been a “mission of many doubts”.

Philip Craven, the International Paralympic Committee president, said Golbarnezhad’s death “cast a dark shadow”, but overall “Rio 2016 will be remembered as a successful Paralympic Games and a Games that surprised many”.

The positive ending to the Games was a turnaround from a few weeks ago, when the organisers’ financial woes in the wake of the August Olympics and a lack of interest in tickets raised fears of failure.

In the end, officials said they sold 2.1 million tickets, fewer than in London four years ago but more than Beijing in 2008.

Part of that success however was down to many tickets being sold for little more than £2 Рor being given away to schoolchildren as part of a campaign.