International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons made an emotional plea for peace at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games ©Getty Images

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons made an angry and emotional plea for peace as the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games opened at Beijing's National Stadium.

"I am horrified with what is taking place in the world," Parsons said.

"The 21st century is a time for dialogue and diplomacy not war and hate.

"The Olympic truce is a consensus and it must be respected and observed not violated.

"Here in Beijing, Paralympic athletes from 46 countries will compete with each other, not against each other. 

"Paralympians! an opponent does not have to be an enemy," he said before concluding his address with the word "peace".

The Opening Ceremony, masterminded by film director Zhang Yimou, featured both impaired and able-bodied participants.

The countdown began with athletes from all six Para sports "racing past all obstacles" before a curling stone reached the centre of the house symbolising that the Ceremony was officially underway.

A total of 564 athletes from 46 countries, including a record 138 women will participate at the Winter Paralympics ©Getty Images
A total of 564 athletes from 46 countries, including a record 138 women will participate at the Winter Paralympics ©Getty Images

A colour party of eight entered with the Chinese Flag and the national anthem of China was performed by a choir of 20 visually-impaired singers.

The athletes parade was preceded by the arrival of Shuey Rhon Rhon, the  mascot inspired by a Chinese Lantern.

In fact, not one but four mascots arrived in the centre of the stage to welcome everyone in both Chinese and English and guide the teams as they made their way into the stadium.

The welcome fanfare was played by trumpeters in blue and white costumes.

There were 13 musicians to reflect the 13th Paralympic Games. 

This was the prelude to the arrival of the 46 competing teams.

Although some athletes had elected not to participate in the parade of nations, the total number from 46 nations was 564, which included 138 women, a record for a Paralympic Winter Games.

To the soundtrack of traditional Chinese tunes, the order determined according to Chinese characters, each national flag was depicted on the floor of the stadium with the name of the nation written in both Chinese and English.

Ukraine entered early in the parade with a team of 12 men and 8 women athletes who had made it from their war-torn homeland to compete.

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons had described their arrival as a "fantastic story".

Organisers had been forced to modify the marching order after the eleventh hour decision to exclude Belarus and Russia. 

Many teams had joint flag bearers to reflect gender equity.

Skiers Tyler Carter and Danelle Umstead carried the United States flag.

Umstead, who is visually impaired, received the news from husband Rob who acts as her guide on course and walked with her in the Bird's Nest.

The team also included Para curler Pam Wilson, who at 66 is the oldest competitor in these Games.

The last team to enter was the largest of all - China with 96 competitors across all six Paralympic sports.

Their flag was carried by 18-year-old biathlete Guo Yujie and 21-year-old Para ice hockey player Wang Zhidong.

Fireworks crackled in the shape of the Paralympic Agitos emblem during the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images
Fireworks crackled in the shape of the Paralympic Agitos emblem during the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

As at the Beiijing 2022 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony exactly a month ago, the home team came in to the sound of "Hymn to the Motherland", a popular Chinese tune which has almost become a second national anthem.

A key part of the formalities was the promotion of "We the 15", an initiative launched in Tokyo to recognise that 15 per cent of the population of the world have a disability or impairment.

"It will build greater knowledge of the barriers and discrimination persons with disabilities face on a daily basis at all levels of society. By doing so we will break down these barriers," a We the 15 statement said.

The colour party for the Paralympic Flag included Paralympic badminton gold medallist Liu Yutong, javelin champion Yao Juan, six-time swimming gold medallist Zhang Li, Para fencing champions Sun Gang and Li HaoXue Juan, double table tennis gold medallist in both Rio and Tokyo, and officials Chen Qi, coach to the silver medal winning Chinese wheelchair basketball team and goalball coach Hao Guohua.

As the Paralympic Flag was raised, the message "Change Starts with Sport" flashed on the stage.

Children touched palms to exchange the Agitos, the emblem of the Games.

The Paralympic anthem "Hymn to the Future" composed by Thierry Darnis, was played by a wind band of 47 musicians, all visually impaired.

Alpine skier Zhang Menqiu and Para curler Chen Jianxin took the Paralympic Oath of fair play on behalf of the athletes

They were joined by ice hockey official Zhang Liheng on behalf of the judges, and Yue Quinshuang from wheelchair curling to represent the coaches.

Then came a "Winter Paralympic waltz" with impaired and able-bodied dancers combining on stage as the finale depicted a smiling face.

Then came the climax of the Ceremony with the lighting of the Flame.

The original heritage flame had been kindled at Stoke Mandeville to honour the origins of the Paralympics and united with Flames at the Temple of Heaven.

Eight Torch bearers carried the Flame in the Stadium.

Triple jumper Li Duan, who broke the world record en route to Paralympic Gold in 2008, placed the Torch in the giant snowflake in a moment which replicated the lighting at the Olympic Opening Ceremony a month ago.

Once again, the song of the snowflake resounded around the stadium as fireworks crackled in the shape of the Paralympic Agitos emblem.

IPC President Parsons had expressed the hope that this Ceremony would be the point at which "we stop talking about politics and we start talking about athletes".

Many will sympathise with the sentiments he expressed.