Sat, March 13, 2010
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Vancouver opens 2010 Paralympic Winter Games

2010-03-13 09:13:46 GMT2010-03-13 17:13:46 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

A military band performs during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, March 12, 2010. (Xinhua/Deng Yongyang)

The cauldron is lit during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, March 12, 2010. (Xinhua/Wan Bin)

A dancer performs during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, March 12, 2010. (Xinhua/Deng Yongyang)

Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean attends the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, March 12, 2010. (Xinhua/Wan Bin)

VANCOUVER, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games opened in a grand opening ceremony on Friday with over 60,000 people gathered at BC Place Stadium in the Canadian west coast city.

A two-hour show is going to feature a cast of 5,000 people performing music, dance and songs around a theme of "One inspires many".

A new flame lit the cauldron here just twelve days after the Winter Olympic flame was extinguished.

The Paralympic torch relay arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday for the final leg of its journey before the start of Friday's opening ceremony in Vancouver.

Unlike the Winter Olympic torch relay that travelled across Canada on a massive 45,000-kilometer journey, the longest in Winter Olympic history, the Paralympic torch relay has been a decidedly more-low key affair, taking 10 days in all and covering 13 communities across the country, mainly in the host province British Columbia. About 600 torchbearers are participating nationwide.

The Paralympics, which run from March 12-21, features 1,350 athletes, trainers and support staff from 44 countries and regions.

With the venues spreading out over the Thunderbird Arena at the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Olympic Center and the mountain resort of Whistler, located about two hours northeast of Vancouver, the athletes will compete in five sports and 64 medal events in the wheelchair curling, ice sledge hockey, Alpine skiing and the Nordic skiing encompassing biathlon and cross-country skiing.

China, which won a record 291 medals at the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics, has a small team of seven cross-country skiers and five support staff in Vancouver.

The country, a relative novice in its winter counterpart, made its Winter Paralympics with four athletes at Salt Lake City in 2002, but has yet to win a medal in its two Paralympic appearances.

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