Seb Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, paid tribute to the UK's unique Paralympic history as he welcomed athletes and spectators to the Paralympic Games.
Recalling the archery competition staged by Ludwig Guttman for injured war veterans at the Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire in 1948, Seb Coe declared, "It was this vision that launched Ludwig Guttman's great venture, it was this that launched the Paralympic Games."
"So we say welcome home to this great sporting competition. Welcome home to a movement that shows what sport is all about."
Greeting over 4,000 athletes from 164 teams, Seb Coe promised that the London 2012 Paralympic Games would see exceptional levels of public engagement. "To the athletes I say, you will hear us. The enthusiasm for these Paralympics is extraordinary. The crowds will be unprecedented. These will be Games to remember.
"Prepare to be inspired. Prepare to be dazzled. Prepare to be moved by the Paralympic Games of London 2012."
In his speech Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, said, "Tonight is the start of something extremely special. Tonight is about welcoming the world to a global Games, an event where we will experience every single emotion, including ones we never thought possible.
"As we embark on the Games, we do so knowing that what happens here has the energy to change each and every one of us.
"Your performances will inspire and excite the world. You will not just inspire a generation here, but many generations to come."
After the speeches Her Majesty The Queen officially declared the Games open.
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