The 2022 Virtus Oceania-Asia Games were declared open today at King George Square, Brisbane by Robyn Smith OAM, CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia, Virtus Vice President and IPC Governing Board Member at Large, Member-elect Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Brisbane 2032 and Patrick Chan, President of Virtus Asia and Governing board member of Virtus.
Athletes from 25 countries marched in their colourful national uniforms from Reddacliff place, down Queen Street Mall and into King George Square for the opening ceremony. The ceremony was attended by Helen Croxford, President of the Sport Inclusion Australia Board and Chair of the OA Games 2022 Organising Committee, Duane Kale Vice- President of the International Paralympic Committee, Counsellor Angela Owen, from Brisbane City Council who was also representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Jessica Pugh representing the Premier of Queensland, Barry Holman, Secretary General of Virtus, Patrick Chan, President of Virtus Asia and Governing board member of Virtus and Robyn Smith OAM, CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia, Virtus Vice President and IPC Governing Board Member at Large, Member-elect Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Brisbane 2032.
The celebration was started by Shannon Ruska who performed a traditional ‘smoking ceremony’ of the stage for the official welcome to the country. This was followed by the Australian National anthem recitation by Emma Tomlinson and the DLDC choir and an exhilarating gymnastic performance by the Dynamite studios.
Welcoming the athletes and officials from OA regions, Jessica Pugh mentioned, “It’s really, really special to be here on the land of the oldest continuing living culture here in Australia. For me, sport is always about being part of something bigger than yourself. We absolutely love to see how sports contribute to Australia and the Queensland Government and are really proud to be able to provide a bit of a contribution financially“.
“It’s an absolute privilege to see the nations run in the true spirit of inclusion. It has not been limited to Oceania in Asia and as you’ve seen from the flags behind me, we have representatives here from many parts of the world and that’s what inclusion is about. IPC is delighted to see the pathways that your countries and your governments are providing about opportunities for people with an intellectual impairment to participate in sport and not just participate to make a career out of a sport, and to change your lives and to change the lives of others that will follow in your footsteps.”
“We’re really honoured to have you all here in Brisbane, Australia. It wouldn’t be possible if not for the three tiers of government that have supported us in such a substantial way, the Federal Government, the Queensland Government and the Brisbane City Council who after our success in the 2019 Global Games and a horrible pandemic, decided to support us again to allow us to do this.”
The OA Games athlete ambassador Alberto Campbell and Caitlin Papworth took the athlete’s oath which was followed by technical officials Patricia Terrarium and Patrick Kellen who took the official oath for the OA Games. For the next seven days, the multi-sport event will offer competitions in eleven sports: Athletics, Basketball, Judo, Swimming, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Sailing, Cycling and Rowing, and a demonstration of Taekwondo as well as Badminton.
Virtus wishes the athletes all the best for the events ahead. For those who missed it, here is a recording of the spectacular opening ceremony.