The Bird's Nest will host the Paralympic Opening Ceremony tomorrow ©Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to open the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics tomorrow after what promises to be another spectacular Ceremony at the Bird's Nest Stadium.

The Opening Ceremony, which is expected to last around 80 minutes, will have the theme "Blossoming of Life".

Around a third of the cast will be performers with a disability.

The curtain-raiser of the Games will be split into ten sections which will "present the relentless pursuit of people with disabilities for a better life, a more inclusive world, in a heart-warming atmosphere".

During rehearsals, which are said to have taken place "day and night", the design team used simulation technology for an event which will present the ideas of "self-empowerment and unity".

Teams will enter the stadium in order of Chinese characters, but the last to enter will be hosts China who are expecting to field 96 competitors across all six sports.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons will have a dual role at the Ceremony after a dramatic past two days which eventually saw Russian and Belarus athletes banned due to the invasion of Ukraine.

He will also represent the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because IOC President Thomas Bach is not attending. 

Ser Miang Ng, an IOC vice-president who was set to be present, returned a positive COVID-19 test this week.

Triple Paralympic gold medallist Hou Bin lit the cauldron in 2008 and also took part in the Flame Ceremony at the Temple of Heaven this week  © Getty Images
Triple Paralympic gold medallist Hou Bin lit the cauldron in 2008 and also took part in the Flame Ceremony at the Temple of Heaven this week © Getty Images

The opening address by Parsons seems certain to face intense scrutiny from the world's media after the IPC's 11th hour volte face to ban Russia from participating in the Games, after it previously ruled the country's athletes could compete as neutrals.

The Paralympic flag, which features the red green and blue Agitos symbol, will be raised during the Ceremony.

This flag was to have been used by Russian and Belarussian Paralympic competitors before the ban on their participation was announced. 

It will be accompanied by the playing of the official Paralympic anthem, Hymne de’L ’Avenir or Hymn of the Future,, which was composed more than a quarter of a century ago by Thierry Darnis.

The climax of the Opening Ceremony will of course offer one of the most keenly awaited moments.

At Beijing 2008, the cauldron was ignited high above the stadium by triple Paralympic high jump gold medallist Hou Bin, who pulled his wheelchair up by rope from the ground to the roof of the stadium.

Hou was present again this week as the domestic Torch Relay in China began at Beijing's Temple of Heaven where flames originating in the three competition zones were united with a "heritage" flame sent virtually from Britain.

This was lit at the stadium in Stoke Mandeville where the Games originated, at the suggestion and inspiration of neurosurgeon Sir Ludwig Guttmann in 1948.

The festivities included a choral performance from Beijing's school for the blind and Tai Lihua, the head of the China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe, was one of the first of 565 people to carry the flame on Chinese soil.

Around 20 per cent of bearers had a disability.