Rio Paralympics stages final show in shadow of tragedy


RIO DE JANEIRO: Rio on Sunday (Monday in Manila) closes a Paralympic Games that many feared would be a fiasco but which turned into a triumph, though marred in the final hours by the death of an Iranian cyclist.

Eleven days of competition where China dominated the medals table, followed by Britain, Ukraine and the United States, were ending Sunday with the last few events, including marathons and wheelchair rugby.

At the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana football stadium Brazilian officials were officially to hand over to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The upbeat mood in Rio however was darkened late Saturday by the death of Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, 48.

The athlete, who wore prosthesis on his left leg, fell during a mountainous descent in the road race and died before he could be treated in hospital.

Philip Craven, the International Paralympic Committee president, called the tragedy “truly heart-breaking.”

The Iranian flag flew at half-mast in the Athletes’ Village and a minute’s silence was planned at the closing ceremony.

Nevertheless, Rio was expected to put on a dazzling show at the Maracana, featuring Brazil’s rich music and dance culture to celebrate a far better Paralympics than many had believed possible.

“This will be a time for celebration…, a final act,” said the ceremony’s producer Flavio Machado, who promised “many Brazilian musicians on stage.”



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