Rwanda: Mukobwankawe Leads Parade At Paralympics Opening Ceremony

The national sitting volleyball team captain Liliane Mukobwankawe was one of five athletes that carried the International Paralympic Council (IPC)'s flag when the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games officially opened in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday, August 24.

While Mukobwankawe was among IPC flag bearers, Paralympian Hermas Cliff Muvunyi led Rwanda's delegation as delegations from 162 countries paraded the Tokyo Olympic Stadium to grace the opening ceremony.

Clad in Rwandan traditional attire and each delegate carrying small Rwandan flags, the Rwandan delegation turned up at the parade inside the Tokyo Olympic Stadium in style, just like other countries did during the ceremony.

The opening ceremony is an occasion for the host nation to show off the best of its culture, introduce the competing countries, and generally get everyone in the mood for a sporting event that brings the world together.

Each of the 165 delegations was represented during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics opening ceremony, except Afghanistan whose two athletes had been due to compete at the Paralympics, before their National Paralympic Committee (NPC) withdrew from the Games, due to flights being cancelled out of the capital, Kabul.

But it was decided that the flag would be represented in Japan as 'an act of solidarity and peace' according to International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons earlier in the week.

The flag was carried into the Opening Ceremony by a Tokyo 2020 volunteer.

Rwanda qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in the women's sitting volleyball for the second consecutive time in 2019 after beating Egypt in Kigali to retain the African Championship.

They became the first Sub-Saharan women's team in history, in any sport, to compete at the Paralympic Games at Rio 2016. They eventually finished eighth following defeat against Canada by 3-0 sets.

Rwanda is drawn in Pool B alongside the United States, China and Russia.

Meanwhile, athlete Muvunyi, the most decorated Paralympic athlete in Rwanda, will compete in the 1500 meters.

In general, about 4,400 athletes from 162 national Paralympic committees will compete in 539 medal events across 22 sports in Tokyo.

The Japanese capital city became the first city ever to hold the summer Paralympics twice, having first done so in 1964.

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