TOKYO — The parade of the athletes is always the centerpiece of the opening ceremony. Greece usually marches first in the Olympics, as it is the country where the Olympics originated. As with the Olympics, the number of athletes in the Paralympic parade is likely to decrease compared to a typical Games, as coronavirus restrictions prohibit athletes from entering the Paralympic village until five days before their competitions.
The first team to enter the stadium on Tuesday was the Refugee Paralympic Team, which is making its second appearance at the Games.
Both flag bearers have a deep meaning. Born in Greece after her family fled Syria, Alia Issa is the first woman to join a refugee team at the Paralympics. She will participate in the club throwing event in athletics.
Abbas Karimi, a swimmer and refugee living in the United States since 2016, will be the only Afghan athlete at the Games. The athletes who would fight for the country withdrew from the Games because they were unable to arrange safe flights to Tokyo amid the chaos of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Karimi has lived and trained in Portland, Oregon and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He will swim the 50m backstroke and 50m butterfly.