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Photos: What The Paralympics Opening Ceremony Looked Like

Flag bearers Melissa Stockwell and Charles Aoki of Team United States lead their delegation in the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Flag bearers Melissa Stockwell and Charles Aoki of Team United States lead their delegation in the parade of athletes during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Athletes from around the world wound their way through Tokyo's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, wearing masks and waving to a largely empty stadium, accompanied by performers and upbeat music.

NBCSN will rebroadcast the ceremony Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET.

The stands were largely empty at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.
Sam Barnes / Sportsfile via Getty Images
The stands were largely empty at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.

The "Parade of Athletes" was lead by the Refugee Paralympic Team, a six-member delegation that organizers say represents "the more than 82 million people around the world who have been forced to flee war, persecution, and human rights abuses, 12 million of whom live with a disability."

Members of the Refugee Paralympic Team participate in the parade of nations during the opening ceremony.
Buda Mendes / Getty Images
Members of the Refugee Paralympic Team participate in the parade of nations during the opening ceremony.

The teams range in size from a single athlete to more than 250 competitors.

Flag bearers Yanina Andrea Martinez and Rodolfo Ramirez of Team Argentina lead their delegation in the parade of athletes.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
Flag bearers Yanina Andrea Martinez and Rodolfo Ramirez of Team Argentina lead their delegation in the parade of athletes.

A total of 4,403 athletes are taking part in the international competition getting underway Tuesday, according to the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

That bests the previous record for athletes competing in the Paralympics of 4,328 set in Rio in 2016.

Athletes from Team Israel enter the stadium during the parade of athletes.
Buda Mendes / Getty Images
Athletes from Team Israel enter the stadium during the parade of athletes.

Among those competing in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, 1,853 are women, another record. Previously, Rio 2016 had the most female athletes with 1,671.

Members of Team Iran pose during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
/ Alex Davidson/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee
Members of Team Iran pose during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Team USA was one of the last to enter the stadium because it is hosting the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The 240 U.S athletes include 21 with military affiliations (three of whom are active duty). The flag-bearers are Melissa Stockwell, a veteran and a Parlympic bronze-medalist; and Chuck Aoki, a two-time Paralympic medalist and member of the Athletes' Advisory Council. Read more about them here.

Afghanistan's Paralympic team is unable to compete since the Taliban took control of the country and airports have been slammed with people frantically trying to flee. In a show of solidarity, a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees carried the Afghanistan flag during the parade.

The flag of Afghanistan is presented by volunteers at the Paralympics.
/ Marcus Brandt/picture alliance via Getty Images
The flag of Afghanistan is presented by volunteers at the Paralympics.

The opening ceremony included a performance that served as an ode to movement, even in the face of headwinds. The story featured a one-winged plane, played by 13-year-old Wago Yui, who doesn't think she can fly but is shown by other characters that she can symbolically fly.

NBC said many of the performers had never acted before, including the central character.

Wago Yui performs the role of a one-winged airplane that learns to symbolically fly during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Buda Mendes / Getty Images
Wago Yui performs the role of a one-winged airplane that learns to symbolically fly during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.


Reporting for this story originally appeared in the Morning Edition liveblog.

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