DAY 5 ROUND-UP: Opening Ceremony raises the curtain on IBSA World Games
One of the largest ever gatherings of elite blind and partially sighted musicians, dancers and athletes officially raised the curtain on the IBSA World Games at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.
Crowds gathered at the celebratory event on Friday, August 19, for a flag parade representing the 70 participating nations, alongside a vibrant evening of entertainment which included the world’s only professional group of blind musicians, the Inner Vision Orchestra.
Among the two performances from the Orchestra’s locally-based musicians included a premiere of the IBSA World Games 2023 anthem, You Can Make It If You Try. The group are led by founder Baluji Shrivastav OBE, who performed at the 2012 Paralympic Games closing ceremony alongside Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
Award-winning dance company Step Change Studios performed a Bollywood dance medley, while the line-up also included Birmingham-born blind DJ, Pervez Hussain – who has overcome sight loss and kidney failure to become a motivational speaker – and Birmingham’s own New Orleans-style brass band, Heavy Beat Brass Band, who provided an upbeat backdrop at the start and end of the ceremony.
The athletes were addressed by the newly appointed President of IBSA, Ilgar Rahimov from Azerbaijan, and Chair of British Blind Sport, Sallie Barker MBE, to declare the World Games open.
Ilgar Rahimov told athletes: “These past four years have not been the best for you in terms of opportunities and events to perform because of the global pandemic. But here in Birmingham I promise you you will witness a new beginning. A new beginning for these World Games under the leadership of a new Executive Board determined to make this event for the future reach even more aspiring visually impaired athletes around the world.
“Athletes it’s your time. Go from here and show the world that there are no barriers to high performance in sport given the chance as the world will see here in Birmingham in the coming days. I wish you every success.”
Elsewhere in the day’s sport, women’s blind football continued at the University of Birmingham’s Bournbrook pitches.
India and Germany shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw but the lack of goals – and heavy rain – did not stop India qualifying for the next round. Austria saved a first-half penalty against Argentina in the 10.30am fixture, but – despite a scoreless draw – still booked their place in the next round as they topped Group B.
In the men’s blind football, Columbia and France played out an exciting 1-1 draw in Group C, while Mexico and Iran picked up their first points of the IBSA World Games in an eventful 1-1 draw in Group D, which saw the Mexicans failing to convert two penalties. Elsewhere, Brazil edged Morocco 1-0 to make it two wins out of two and an impressive start to the tournament, topping Group D.