08/09/2016 9:28 AM AEST | Updated 08/09/2016 2:14 PM AEST

Rio Paralympics Opening Ceremony Starts With Giant Wheelchair Jump


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A wheelchair going down a really big ramp doing the world's biggest backflip. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you start a Paralympics Opening ceremony.

The Rio 2016 Paralympics are officially underway, with competition to begin later this evening AEST.

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Don't try this at home... unless your mum and dad say it's OK.

Aside from the antics of extreme wheelchair athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham, Rio put on a low key, low budget ceremony which nonetheless lacked nothing in terms of warmth, good vibe and spectacular visual effects -- just as it had done in the Olympics Opening Ceremony a month ago.

Highlights included blind Brazilian dancers towards the end of the ceremony, and a beautiful homage early in the ceremony to perhaps humanity's greatest invention, the wheel.

Sergio Moraes / Reuters
The ceremony was wheely moving.
Not over-the-top, just beautiful.

Led by wheelchair basketball legend Brad Ness, the Aussies looked great. They eschewed the traditional green-and-gold for jackets of a colour which fashionistas might call "powder blue" or "pastel blue", but which you and I would probably just call pale blue or even just plain old light blue. Anyway, they looked good.

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The traditoinal green and gold... and orange... and blue... and white...

International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven made an impassioned speech in which he said:

"You [the athletes] have a unique opportunity to make for a more equitable world. Your values tell people what you stand for and most importantly, who you are.

"With the eyes of the world upon you, I ask you to send a message to the world through sport -- a narrative of inclusion, a tale of empowerment and a legend that hope will always conquer fear.

Show the world that there is no them, there is only us. A world where people of all races, nationalities and sexualities can come together as one. We are all part of one world."

These Paralympics will feature athletes from 159 National Paralympic Committees. They take place amid great political turmoil in Brazil. There were enormous boos at the Maracanã Stadium whenever the government was mentioned, and especially Michel Temer, the 75-year-old replacement to Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached before the Rio Olympics and has subsequently been removed from office.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters
Drummers, obviously. Because Brazil. In fact these objects are the thermoses in which people serve "mate" tea on Brazilian beaches. But you can also drum on them.

The Olympic flame was lit by Brazilian Paralympic swimmer Clodoaldo Silva. In a beautiful moment, a flight of stairs morphed into a flight of stairs with a ramp. So simple, but it said it all.

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This was really cool. First it was just stairs. Then the magic happened and a ramp appeared.

Oh, and for the record, the wheelchair guy landed in a giant airbag. Phew.

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For once the cauldron actually looked like... y'know... a cauldron.
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