Afghanistan flag to feature in Paralympic opening ceremony as a show of 'solidarity'

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(CNN)The emblem of Afghanistan volition beryllium utilized arsenic a awesome of "solidarity and peace" arsenic the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games kicks disconnected connected Tuesday nighttime successful Japan.

The 16th Summer Paralympics -- delayed by a twelvemonth owed to the pandemic -- volition instrumentality spot amid Japan's worst outbreak of Covid-19, with spectators banned from the bulk of events and Tokyo and surrounding prefectures nether a authorities of exigency owed to surging lawsuit numbers.

Speaking connected the eve of Tuesday's opening ceremonial astatine the Olympic Stadium successful Tokyo, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Andrew Parsons said helium was determined the Paralympics would beryllium held safely.

    "One of the questions I americium asked precise often is, 'can we person harmless Games?' and the reply is yes, we would not beryllium present if we did not judge we could present harmless Games," helium said.

      Parsons confirmed Afghanistan's emblem volition beryllium incorporated into the opening ceremonial parade contempt Afghan athletes pulling retired of the Games owed to flights being canceled from the country.

      Kabul's airdrome has been the absorption of the world's attraction this week aft the Taliban seized the capital, with thousands of radical trying to flee the caller regime.

      "We volition see the Afghanistan emblem successful the ceremonial successful a motion of solidarity and we person invited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees typical present to enactment arsenic the flagbearer," Parsons told reporters.

      "It is important to item that arsenic it is simply a connection of solidarity and bid that we nonstop to the world," helium added.

      "We would similar to person them here, unluckily it is not possible, but they volition beryllium present successful spirit."

      The Taliban's takeover successful Afghanistan is seen arsenic a menace to the nation's sporting ambitions, with sportswomen afraid they'll beryllium punished for trying to compete.

      In a connection to CNN Sport past week, the IPC said it was "supportive of the signifier of athletics arsenic a basal quality right."

      "Every idiosyncratic should person the anticipation to play athletics and no-one should beryllium discriminated against due to the fact that of their disability, gender, intersexual preference, contention oregon religion," it added.

      Fireworks are lit to extremity  the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games connected  August 8.

      Covid outbreak

      Earlier this month, Japan waved goodbye to thousands of athletes pursuing an Olympics wide viewed arsenic a occurrence contempt a litany of scandals and the backdrop of surging coronavirus cases successful the country.

      The hosts are present primed to invited thousands much athletes arsenic the Paralympic Games get underway, scheduled to tally done September 5.

      There was an lack of spectators for 97% of competitions during the Olympics -- including successful each Tokyo venues, with constricted capableness successful respective different prefectures -- and past week, organizers said the Paralympics would besides beryllium held down closed doors amid the pandemic.

      Japan has reported astir 435,000 Covid-19 cases and 577 deaths successful the past 28 days, according to information from Johns Hopkins University. Tokyo, the epicenter of the country's outbreak, confirmed 2,447 caller cases connected Monday, down 515 from the aforesaid time past week. It was the archetypal clip successful 2 days for the capital's regular tally to autumn beneath the corresponding time successful the erstwhile week.

      On August 17, the Japanese authorities extended the authorities of exigency successful Tokyo and different regions to September 12 arsenic cases soared.

      "The Delta variant raging crossed the satellite is causing unprecedented cases successful our country," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said.

      "Serious cases are expanding rapidly and severely burdening the aesculapian system, peculiarly successful the superior region."

      It means athletes volition person to vie without household and friends successful the stadium, thing which immoderate competitors astatine the Olympic Games said they struggled with.

      Nonetheless, Paralympic triathlete Melissa Stockwell, 1 of Team USA's emblem bearers, said she's looking guardant to making the astir of it.

      "It was beauteous pugnacious to perceive the quality that household and friends were not going to beryllium allowed astatine the Games," Stockwell told CNN.

      "I had these images of moving down the decorativeness enactment with my hubby and my kids connected the sideline yelling, 'Go, mommy, go!' and that's not going to hap and that's precise unfortunate.

      "I deliberation arsenic acold arsenic my household goes, they're not present physically but they're present successful my mind, and I'll inactive perceive those 'Go, mommy, go' screams successful my caput arsenic I tally down that finish."

      Flag bearers of Team Afghanistan during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

      Paralympic debuts

      Despite the precise existent menace posed by the pandemic, organizers importune they tin inactive big a harmless and palmy Paralympic Games, pointing to the comparative occurrence of the Olympics.

      The aforesaid strict precautions volition beryllium successful effect with athletes confined to tiny societal bubbles and required to undertake extended testing.

      But fans tin inactive get excited to ticker athletes vie successful 22 antithetic sports, with badminton and taekwondo making their Paralympic debuts.

      Bhutan, Grenada, Maldives, Paraguay, and St Vincent and the Grenadines volition besides beryllium taking portion astatine a Paralympic Games for the archetypal time, with 162 delegations acceptable to compete.

      There are 3 much nations competing successful Tokyo than determination were astatine Rio 2016 but London 2012 inactive holds the Paralympic record, with 164 delegations taking part.

      "It is ever peculiar to spot an NPC (National Paralympic Committees) marque their archetypal quality astatine the Paralympic Games," Parsons said.

      "With each the challenges created by the pandemic, seeing these NPCs arsenic portion of the opening ceremonial connected August 24 volition beryllium an other peculiar and affectional infinitesimal for each concerned."

      Refugee Team

      Among those federations competing volition beryllium the Refugee Paralympic Team, which consists of six athletes -- 1 pistillate and 5 men.

      The IPC says the radical "represents the much than 82 cardinal radical astir the satellite who person been forced to fly war, persecution and quality rights abuses -- 12 cardinal of whom unrecorded with a disability."

      Bayern Munich's shot prima Alphonso Davies penned an unfastened missive to the Refugee Team up of competition, saying those progressive were an inspiration.

      "Not everyone understands the travel you person been on," wrote Davies, who himself was a exile earlier his household moved to Canada. "But I do, and that's an important portion of what made maine who I am.

      "I've work your stories and learnt astir the journeys you person each been through. You are the astir courageous sports squad successful the satellite close now.

        "One of the things I cognize astir athletics is its powerfulness to alteration lives. You are each relation models present with the powerfulness to animate others. Make nary mistake, what you are astir to bash successful Tokyo volition alteration people's lives.

        "There are going to beryllium young radical who volition instrumentality up athletics due to the fact that of you."

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