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Defending champions Australia, as well as swimmers Sally Pearson and Ed Quirk, are among the nation’s athletes whose names will appear on an empty playing surface at Rio 2016 Paralympics opening ceremony.

Friday’s Opening Ceremony will feature a show of colour and emotion and two of the biggest of them will be without spectators.

T20 cricket star and opening ceremony headliner Mahela Jayawardene says he and her fellow ICC World Cup finalists will not perform.

“A huge portion of my day will be dedicated to practising, rest and preparation which will see me on my own again during the Paralympics. The same applies to the rest of the team,” he said.


Boxer Amanda Hogan is amongst those involved and says she felt honoured to have been selected.

“I’m not sure whether it will be exciting, or traumatic, to not perform on that stage,” she said.

“I think the odd year where you’re not on a stage like this, it’s a very unique experience.”

And all eyes will be on another sport that will not get a full complement of spectators – soccer.

As the SID announced on Friday, hundreds of participants across 41 sports will have their names listed on a playing field where organisers hope hundreds of thousands of viewers will watch.

The grand total of ’empty seats’ could climb into the tens of thousands.

“To have so many of the world’s stars only on a stage where spectators are absent is not what we envisaged when we entered the tournament. It does not feel right,” said SID chief executive John Marvelli.

Australia’s sole chance of a full house will come in the final races as about 700 spectators will be moved from the sunlit Copacabana Beach to quell a tidal wave of spectators expected to come running from the bleachers.

“It has been evident from all indications that Rio 2016 will be a most popular Paralympic Games,” said Marvelli.

“This explains the popularity of the Opening Ceremony with thousands of spectators likely to watch on TV in Sydney.”

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