Israeli-born Athlete Among Largest-Ever U.S. Paralympic Delegation
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Israeli-born Athlete Among Largest-Ever U.S. Paralympic Delegation

Russia has been banned from the games, but for the first time, there will be a refugee team taking part

The United States has sent its largest ever delegation to the Summer Paralympic Games in Rio, with 289 athletes set to take part. Among the U.S. athletes is 37-year-old Noga Nir-Kistler, an Israeli-born swimmer competing in her third Paralympic Games. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she competed in table tennis, before switching to swimming in 2010 and going on to win a bronze medal two years later in London.

Despite many difficulties and controversies, the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games is due to take place on Wednesday evening. The games were hit by financial problems early on primarily caused by low ticket sales, with only an estimated 12 percent of tickets being sold as of mid-August. In addition, the Russian delegation was hit with a blanket ban on participation last month, drawing a furious reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who declared that the International Paralympic Committee had “humiliated itself.” The President of the IPC, Philip Craven, extended his “enormous sympathy” to the athletes, but blamed Russia’s “medals-over-morals mentality.”

The other big story is the participation of a refugee team for the first time ever. The team consists of two athletes: Ibrahim al-Hussein, a Syrian swimmer who lost a leg in a roadside bombing, and Shahrad Nasajpour, an Iranian asylee in the United States who will be taking part in the discus event.

The viral promo for the Paralympics in the UK has garnered almost 6 million views on YouTube.

The games are to be broadcast on NBC and NBCSN as well as streamed live on TeamUSA.org.

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