The spectacular Opening Ceremony of Deaflympics 2015 – the third “white” Games in a row held in Russia – took place in Khanty-Mansiysk. 27 countries, 350 participants, emotions, joy and warmth of Siberian hospitality – all of there could be seen tonight during the Ceremony.
The Ugra Tennis Center was able to receive around 3 000 spectators. They came here for the event from all parts of Russia; besides, flags of many participating countries could be seen of spectators’ stands. Some teams have brought with them their die-hard fans to snowy Siberia.
The Ceremony has started with a prolog – a theater and media installation dedicated to the history of Deaflympics.
Then the audience has greeted the national teams participating in the Games that marched with the flags of their countries to their seats. The spectators have quickly learned how to applaud in sign language. To do this they needed to raise their hands and twirl palms.
The team of Russia is the biggest national team of the Games. It includes 76 athletes. A cross-country skier from Ugra Sergey Yermilov – a champion and prize-winner of Deaflympics in cross-country skiing, a multiple world champion and a champion of Russia – was a flag-bearer of Russian team.
Singing the national anthem of Russia in sign language was one of the most touching moments of the Opening Ceremony. After it the Ministry of Sport of Russia Vitaly Mutko has turned to participants and guests of the Games with his welcome speech.
«Russia is a hospitable and friendly country where we do everything for developing sports. Such important international events have a very big heritage. I am sure the Games will be conducted on a very high level, and you, athletes, will be an inspiration for the rest of the world, you will show how sport unites people», – said he.
The active governor of Ugra Natalia Komarova in her speech has underlined: «Two great Siberian rivers – Ob and Irtysh – are having confluence in the vicinity of Khanty-Mansiysk. In the same way Deaflympics have united athletes from 27 countries. In the nearest days you will often see the logo of the Games – a palm symbolizes that we understand each other without any words. And a black grouse means wealth and prosperity. I will you to get a lot of medals and a lot of friends, such friends like the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, the Russian Committee of Deaf Sports, the President and Government of Russia. We fell in love with you even before meeting you».
The head of the Russian Committee of Deaf Sports Alexander Romantsov has mentioned that a lot of work has been done to get ready for the Games. «We wish that every athlete will be able to take at least one medal from Ugra», – said Alexander Romantsov to athletes.
The President of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf Valery Rukhledev has reminded that there are around 70 million deaf people in the world. That’s why these Games give a great opportunity to declare that such people are among all of us.
It is to be noted that performance groups and bands from different places of Ugra, Tyumen and Moscow took part in the show that included elements of modern sport technologies and mass-scale projections. The total number of people involves is 420.
Of cause the spectators were looking forward to see the main part of the Ceremony – the lighting of Deaflympic cauldron. At some moment a choreographic group in costumes of indigenous people of the North appeared on the stage and the ancient process of making fire was shown on a screen. Then a khanti man carrying a lampion with Deaflympic fire has appeared on the stage. This lampion was transferred to the city centre by 18 torch-bearers. But before this the fire was carried along the perimeter of the stage by members of the national Deaflympic team of Russia.
When the relay started moving along the streets of Khanty-Mansiysk the show continued with theater performance with the mascots of the Games. The audience has also seen some choreographic sketches, symbolizing each discipline included in the program of Deaflympics 2015.
The real ice-show was one of the main surprises of the Ceremony. It took place rights on the concert stage. At some moment the Tennis Center was looking like an ice arena.
In the end of the Ceremony athletes and their fans have watched a live broadcast from the central square of Khanty-Mansiysk where the final stage of the Deaflympic torch relay took place. A many-time Paralympic champion Alexey Ashapatov have passed a lampion to Alexander Drozdov – a prize-winner of Deaflympics – who has lighted the Deaflympic cauldron much to everyone’s delight.
The colorful fireworks in the sky of Khanty-Mansiysk have put an end to the Opening Ceremony of the Games that were already included in the history of Russian sport. This is for the first time that Russia is hosting the Winter Deaflympics and for such a sport region as Ugra it is a great honor to host them.