Dali’s dazzling opening ceremony elevate WPV Final Paralympics Qualifier

The 2024 WPV Sitting Volleyball Final Qualifiers for Men and Women, presented by Delin Company, in Dali, China, unfolded in a symphony of presentations that set it apart from any other event. With a backdrop of stunning lights and sounds, over 5,000 spectators gathered to witness a spectacle unlike any other. 

The opening ceremony performances showcased the vibrant spirit and unique identity of the city, marking the final journey towards the Paris 2024 Paralympics. As spectators marvelled at the displays, they were reminded of Dali’s rich cultural heritage and the excitement of the upcoming competition, setting the stage for an extraordinary experience ahead.

World ParaVolley President Lori Okimura’s address during the opening ceremony highlighted the profound significance of the event and the collective journey, emphasising unity, dedication and the celebration of shared aspirations among all participants.

World ParaVolley President Lori Okimura
Thank you and welcome to the World ParaVolley Paris Paralympics Final Qualifier for men and women, presented by Delin. My name is Lori Okimura and I am the President of World ParaVolley. I am very honored to be here with you all to celebrate the accomplishments of the last years of the teams here to compete for the final positions among sitting volleyball teams that will compete at the Paris 2024 Paralympics. Our winners of this tournament will join the women of Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Rwanda, United States, and the women of China whom we will see in exhibition matches here in Dali.

And the men’s teams of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, and Kazakhstan. This is my first visit to Dali and I look forward to returning again in the future to experience more of the peaceful culture that Dali has to offer. When I arrived a few days ago; I was surprised to learn that the World ParaVolley Final Qualifier is the first time a major international para sport event has taken place in Dali. What an honor for sitting volleyball to be recognized with this distinction.

I would like to thank Mr. You Liang, Vice Chairman of NPC CHINA, and leaders from Yunnan Province for their outstanding preparation, and for their constant support of the Final Qualifier to complete the Pathway to Paris 2024. I would also like to thank my fellow World ParaVolley Board Member, Mr. LU Cailiang, the president of ParaVolley Asia Oceania and a long time leader in our community. We have a few other Board members and key World ParaVolley leaders here with us in Dali and I would like to take a moment to recognize them. From our Board, medical director Louise Ashcroft, President of ParaVolley Europe Branko Mihorko, and we have ougeneral manager Phil Allen and Treasurer Benno Meijer.

I would also like to thank a very special group of people who have worked very hard over the last few years to support our return to live events after the Tokyo Paralympics, and steer us in a good direction for Paris 2024. Serving here are 34 ITOs, some of whom will be continuing on to work the Paralympics in August and some who could not be with us in Dali but are preparing behind the scenes in support. We are a team and I am proud to be standing alongside these dedicated volunteers.

I look forward to spending time with our athletes and watching the competition. I started my own path with World ParaVolley in China in 2016 as a technical official and have enjoyed a long history of supporting beach volleyball events here. I am looking forward to returning in a few months for the World ParaVolley Beach ParaVolley World Championship in Chonqing. And in 2-years for the WPV Sitting Volleyball World Championship.

Thank you to all the teams, our officials, the many leaders of our National Paralympic Committee members, and of World ParaVolley who have contributed to the Paris Pathway to get us to this moment. I wish you all the very best in this competition and look forward to spending time listening and learning more from each of you during our time here together. Thank you.

2024 WPV Final Paralympics Qualifier Opening Ceremony Gallery