A Flame We All Carry

Jul 10, 2015, 22:53 ET from Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

Opening Ceremony Celebrates the History of a Land, the Heart of a People and a Games to Remember

TORONTO, July 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games Opening Ceremony, produced by Cirque du Soleil, Official Creative Partner for the Opening Ceremony, spoke to the enduring legacy of First Nations, the welcoming of cultures from around the world, the inspirational power of athletes and the proud legacy of Canadian sport heroes — in front of a sold-out live audience of 45,000, with hundreds of millions of households watching the broadcast across the world.

The Canadian 4 x 100-metre relay team that brought a nation to its feet with a gold-medal performance at the 1996 Olympic Games, took part in a historic torch run that concluded atop the CN Tower, which, until 2010, was the world's tallest tower, building and freestanding structure. The audience then saw Canadian track legend Donovan Bailey turn, torch in hand, and BASE jump from the CN tower before descending from the ceiling and delivering the flame to the Opening Ceremony.

Following the raising of the Pan Am Games and the Olympic Games flags, Saäd Rafi, TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) chief executive officer, spoke of the excitement of the Games and the legacy they will leave. "The memory of these Games, and the beautiful venues left behind, will say to our youth for years to come: To try is worthy. To be hopeful is right. To be idealistic is wise," said Rafi.  

Dr. Julio C. Maglione, president, Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) then welcomed athletes and visitors to the Games. A video tribute honoured the 2015 passing of Mario Vázquez Raña, who was PASO's president at the time of his death. Canada's Governor General David Johnston then said the words everyone had been waiting to hear: "Tonight, I solemnly declare open the 17th Pan American Games."

In an emotional family moment, Marita Payne-Wiggins, team member on the 1984 Canadian Olympic silver medal 4 x 400-metre relay team, passed the torch to her son, Canadian-born NBA basketball star Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins ran up the stadium steps to meet the final torchbearer, Steve Nash, two-time winner of the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award and current general manager of Canada's senior men's basketball team. With the Games cauldron lit, 6,100 athletes from 41 countries and territories will begin competing in 36 sports as the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games get underway.

To see photos from the Opening Ceremony, please visit http://toronto2015.mediaroom.com/pad.

SOURCE Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games