March 6 - With just one day to go until the Opening Ceremony, the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games Wall was officially opened today in a ceremony attended by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven and United Nations (UN) Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke.
Sir Philip and Lemke were joined at the ribbon cutting ceremony in the international zone of the Coastal Paralympic Village by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Sochi 2014 President and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko, while two-times Paralympic swimming champion Olesya Vladykina, Mayor of the Coastal Village, was also in attendance.
There will also be a Paralympic Wall located in the Mountain Village just outside Sochi, and it is hoped that visiting dignitaries, fans, team officials and athletes will leave messages of support on each Wall.
The Wall has become a long-standing tradition of Summer and Winter Paralympic Games and commemorates the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted by the UN in 2006.
The Convention sets out the rights of people with disabilities including accessibility, equality and non-discrimination, living independently, mobility and participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.
In May 2013, the Convention was ratified by the Russian Federation.
"I truly believe Russia's first Paralympics can have the biggest impact on the host country, helping to transform the lives of 13 million Russians with an impairment," said Sir Philip during the ceremony.
"Just by staging these Games, Russia is sending a clear message to the world that it is willing, and wanting, to change.
"That message has been reinforced in recent years through the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities, the passing of federal laws designed to improve the lives of people with an impairment, and by the creation of a barrier free Games infrastructure here in Sochi."
Each Wall is made of five panels and on each of them guests can write their own messages.
Three panels are patterned and two are completely transparent.
Inscribed on the wall is the message: "This is a Paralympic Wall to show our support for principles of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.
"Inspired by the participants of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, their achievements, courage and determination, we commit to a world without barriers and limits to human abilities."
One panel contains the symbol of the Paralympic Movement - the Agitos - along with the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games emblem and the UN logo.
Another panel is inscribed with the Paralympic Movement values in English and Russian which are Determination (Целеустремленность), Courage (Мужество), Equality (Равенство) and Inspiration (Воодушевление), along with the Paralympic message in Russian.
Attention in Sochi will now turn to the Opening Ceremony tomorrow, which will see around 547 athletes from 45 countries competing across five sports during nine days of competition.
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