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The 43rd National Paralympic Games, a stage for the dreams and passions of athletes with disabilities, kicked off on Wednesday at the Mokpo Sports Complex in Mokpo, Jeollanam-do. At the opening ceremony, held under the theme of ‘Sound of Jeollanam-do’, athletes representing 17 provinces across the country promised to compete in good faith. The opening ceremony consisted of the entrance of the athletes, the opening declaration, the raising of the competition flag, the oath of the athletes and referees, the theme performance, and the lighting of the torch. The Games will feature 31 events (28 athletic and 18 recreational), with a total of 9,578 athletes, including 6,061 athletes and 3,517 officials. It is the largest ever.

The tournament will run through Aug. 8 at 38 venues in 12 cities and counties in Jeollanam-do, including the main host city of Mokpo. “I sincerely congratulate you on the 43rd National Para Sports Games,” said President Yoon Seok-yeol in a congratulatory message read by Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Jang Jang-ran. “Like the recently built Mokpo Bandabi Sports Center, the government will do its best to further ensure the sports rights of people with disabilities by increasing the number of socially integrated sports facilities that anyone can use without discrimination.” The opening ceremony was attended by Vice Minister Jang Jang-ran, Jeong Jin-wan, President of the Korean Para Sports Association, and Jeonnam Governor Kim Young-rok.

In his welcome speech, Kim said, “The Paralympic Games is a national sports festival that unites people with and without disabilities,” adding, “I hope this will be the stage for a new history where all the athletes will soar toward bigger dreams.” “At the Hangzhou 2022 Para Asian Games, which concluded last week, more than 200 athletes who have grown through the National Para Games showed excellent performances and achieved the fourth place overall,” said Jeong Jin-wan. “We hope that the Games will also provide an opportunity for everyone to develop through goodwill competition .”In addition to sports competitions, the Games will feature various side events.

The ‘Dream Paralympics’ program, a sports-based disability awareness program, will be held near the Mokpo General Stadium. Visitors will be able to experience wheelchair badminton, boccia, and showdowns. The Korea Para Sports Federation will also organize the ‘Para Sports Human Rights Festival’ to raise awareness of disability rights. The first Paralympic Games were held in 1981, and since 2016, Para athletes have been participating. Several national athletes will be participating, including three-time Hangzhou Para Asian Games champion 스포츠토토존 Kim Jung-bin in cycling and table tennis player Seo Soo-yeon.

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