Rio Paralympics Stages Closing Ceremony (SEE PHOTOS)

Rio said farewell to the Paralympics Sunday in a closing ceremony showcasing Brazil’s love for music and celebrating what many consider to have been a surprisingly successful Games.

Dancers perform during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on September 18, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Yasuyoshi Chiba

The famous Maracana football stadium was packed, with the Paralympians themselves seated across the field, as proceedings kicked off with fireworks.

Among the first performers was Jonathan Bastos, a Brazilian who was born without arms but has became an accomplished musician, playing instruments with his feet. Then it was Ricardinho, star of Brazil’s gold medal winning five-a-side Paralympic football team, who brought out the national flag.

Volunteers dance with a performer during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on September 18, 2016.  / AFP PHOTO / Yasuyoshi Chiba

Later, a minute of silence was to be held for Iranian cyclist Bahman Golbarnezhad, who died Saturday in a crash during the road race.

Eleven days of competition where China dominated the medals table, followed by Britain, Ukraine and the United States, ended earlier Sunday with the last few events, including marathons and wheelchair rugby.

Athletes celebrate during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on September 18, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Yasuyoshi Chiba

Organizers said they had pulled off an against-the-odds success in the Rio de Janeiro Games.

“Mission accomplished,” said Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee.

Referring to the political instability and deep recession weighing down Brazil as it put on South America’s first Olympics in August and then the Paralympics, he conceded that it had been “a mission of many doubts.”

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes (L), President of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven (C) and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (R) celebrate during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on September 18, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Yasuyoshi Chiba

Philip Craven, the International Paralympic Committee president, said the cyclist’s death “cast a dark shadow” but that overall “Rio 2016 will be remembered as a successful Paralympic Games and a Games that surprised many.”

Koichi Omae and four female dancers are joined on stage by GIMICO, Aya Sato, Bambi and Akira Hiyama as a sign saying "see you in Tokyo" appears behind the performers during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on September 18, 2016. Handout photo by Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC via AFP. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. / AFP PHOTO / Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE.

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Erdogan Stages Mass Rally In Show Of Strength After Coup Attempt

President Tayyip Erdogan has told a rally of millions of people in Turkey that the failed July coup would be a milestone in building a stronger Turkey and defying the Western criticism of mass purges.

He also vowed to destroy those behind the putsch.

The “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” at the Yenikapi parade ground, built into the sea on the southern edge of Istanbul, was a show of strength by Erdogan.

He was angered by European criticism of his combative response to the coup and by U.S. reluctance to hand over the man he accuses of masterminding it.

Banners in a sea of red Turkish flags read “You are a gift from God, Erdogan” and “Order us to die and we will do it”.

It was the first time in decades that opposition leaders joined a rally in support of the government, with pockets of secularists, nationalists and others alongside his core Islamist supporters.

He said that the July 15 abortive coup, draw parallels to times past when Turkey was occupied by foreign forces.

“That night, our enemies who were rubbing their hands in anticipation of Turkey’s downfall woke up the next morning to the grief that things would be more difficult from now on.

“From now on, we will examine very carefully who we have under us.

“We will see who we have in the military, who we have in the judiciary, and throw the others out of the door,’’ Erdogan said.

The report said that the parade ground, built to hold more than a million people, was overflowed, with the streets of surrounding neighborhoods clogged by crowds.

It said that one presidency official put the numbers at around five million and the event was broadcast live on public screens at smaller rallies across Turkey’s 81 provinces.