By Duncan Mackay

The Asian Para Games have opened in Incheon ©Incheon 2014 The 2014 Asian Para Games have opened in Incheon today with a spectacular firework display at the Munhak Sports Complex watched by South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hung Won.

The ceremony was also attended by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven, along with several other South Korean Ministers, top officials and dignitaries from participating countries.

Asian Paralympic Committee President Dato Zainal Abu Zarin, in his speech, paid tribute to the South Korean Government for organising the event, which are taking place two weeks after the end of the Asian Games. 

"Here in Incheon, we will witness the magic of Para sporting action," he told the crowd.

"Indeed, a wave of passion, begins now.

"To be able to be here, to be among Asia's best, is a feat in itself.

"To everyone who have made it to Incheon, congratulations.

"The people of Incheon...we salute you for your deep passion, your continuous support towards this Games.

"We can clearly see and feel your sincere passion and great dynamism. 

"This is the moment for you to show your enthusiasm and spirit of togetherness to the world."

Athletes and officials prepare for the Opening Ceremony of the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games ©Incheon 2014Athletes and officials prepare for the Opening Ceremony of the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games ©Incheon 2014

Nearly 2,500 athletes and more than a thousand officials from 41 National Paralympic Committees will be involved in 23 sports throughout the seven days of competition in the South Korean city.

There will be four sports making their debut - lawn bowls, sailing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair dance sport.

Badminton, recently voted onto the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020, will also feature.

A total of 400 events, offering more than 500 medals, will be held.

Hosts South Korean will be represented by 335 athletes and have targeted second place overall, improving on their third-placed performance four years ago in Guangzhou, where they won 103 medals, including 27 gold.

But, just as in the Asian Games, which finished two weeks ago, China are expected to dominate.

At Guangzhou 2010 they won a total of 391 medals, including 185 golds - more than all the other countries combined.

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