The Beijing Paralympic Games will sure be "stupendous," the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Philip Craven, said at the Games' opening ceremony in the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, on Saturday night.
"As we embrace these milestones in Paralympic history, our hearts go out to the millions of Chinese people who have been affected by successive national disasters in the first half of this year," said Craven in his opening ceremony speech.
Though the IPC chief did not elaborate, these disasters obviously included a devastating magnitude-8 earthquake that rocked China's Sichuan Province on May 12 that killed more than 80,000 people, as well as a major blizzard that swept nearly half of the country in January-February.
"Despite these tragedies, China and the Beijing Organizing Committee and its President Liu Qi were able to continue preparations for marvelous Olympic Games and what we are sure will be stupendous Paralympic Games," Craven told the nearly 100,000 spectators in the full-packed Bird's Nest, in north Beijing.
"I would like to thank you all for this great work and hope that our collaboration over the past seven years has been of a cordial, frank, constructive, temperate and deferential nature," he added.
Craven also recognize the support of the International Olympic Committee, its president Jacques Rogge and His Excellency Juan Antonio Samaranch who is at the stadium.
These Games will have more athletes, more competing nations, and more sporting events than ever before, he said.
He said Paralympians have invested many years of their lives to be here, adding that will "ensure that you perform at your very best, and that you respect fair play. You never know, you may even exceed your wildest dreams."
Craven said the Paralympians are also here to have fun, make new friends, and create memories in the cities of Beijing, Qingdao and Hong Kong. This is not about hope, but about vision and what they represent.
"We want to experience your confidence and self-determination, ranging from elite performance on the field of play, to voicing your opinions in the IPC Athletes' Council elections," he said.
Following Craven’s speech, Chinese President Hu Jintao declared open the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, chief organizer Liu Qi said the Beijing Paralympic Games will be a grand celebration for all people in the world.
"The Beijing Paralympic Games is first and foremost a grand sports event for the Paralympic athletes of the world .. It is also a glorious event for each and every person all over the world," Liu said.
"The passion and dreams of the Paralympic Movement will be enjoyed to its fullest," he said.
Liu has headed the organization which hosted a memorable and "truly exceptional" Olympic Games, and he is looking forward to presenting the Paralympics with "equal splendor".
"The Chinese people uphold the spirit of self-reliance and perseverance, and they are proud of their virtue of supporting and helping people with a disability," he said.
"It is our earnest hope that the Beijing Paralympic Games will unfold into a magnificent event filled with joy, friendship, dreams and success.
The whole world will witness and experience the Chinese people's enthusiasm for embracing the world," he assured.
Presented by two Chinese pop singers, Han Hong and Andy Lau, the theme song of the Paralympic Games, "Flying with the Dream" was unveiled at the Games' opening ceremony.
The Paralympics will run from September 6-17.