CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in RIO DE JANEIRO —- The curtain has come down finally on the decade-long roller-coaster of the Rio Olympics – from bid to award to staging – with the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games.
The route to the first Games held in South America has been in turns exciting and excruciating in a vast country of massive contrasts and where life, public and personal, is never dull.
Whatever the shortcomings of the political and financial uncertainties the overall victory was due, as noted by IPC president Sir Philip Craven, in the closing address to the “outstanding support” of the Brazilian public.
In his final Games as president of the International Paralympic Committee, Craven announced during his closing ceremony speech at the Maracana that he was awarding the people of Rio and Brazil the Paralympic order.
Addressing the 45,000 strong crowd, he said: “In a city world famous for its landmarks, the most prized souvenir I take away is the memory of you, Cariocas fantasticos.
The noise you created, the passion you shared, the warmth you provided inspired Paralympians to achieve what some thought impossible.
“In a Games of many golds, I have one last medal to present. The IPC governing board has decided unanimously that tomorrow I will award the people of Rio and Brazil, the Paralympic Order, the highest honour a person or group of people may receive, for your outstanding support of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“Welcome as members to the Paralympic Movement.”
The mood of the jubilant and musical ceremony was paused only when Craven invited all assembled to pause a moment form the memory of Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died on Saturday of a cardiac arrest after crashing in the c4 road race.