Malaga rolls out red carpet for latest edition of World Transplant Games

The parade of the athletes from the competing nations in the Malagueta bullring.
The parade of the athletes from the competing nations in the Malagueta bullring. / Álvaro Cabrera
  • Malaga has been chosen to host the 21st edition of the Games after Spain's recognition as the country which has carried out the most transplants in the world

More than 4,000 people attended the opening ceremony of the 21st edition of the World Transplant Games at the Malagueta bullring on Sunday evening.

A dance performance dedicated to those who had donated organs or blood, as well as to symbolise the second opportunity that those who had received transplants had been given, was followed by an exhibition of Andalusian culture which involved a dressage horse performing choreography.

The highlight of the opening ceremony was the tribute to Pablo Ráez, the 20-year-old social media sensation who lost his battle against leukaemia in February, through a video which encouraged more people to become organ donors, even though Spain is currently the country which has carried out the most number of transplants in the world.

The performances were brought to a close by the raising of the flag by twins who are part of Spain's team and a flamenco dance which gave way to all participants and judges swearing the oath, before the parade of the athletes around the bullring.

Singer Javier Ojeda brought the ceremony to a close with his version of the Games' anthem.

More than 50 countries, the highest number in the history of the Games, are competing in 17 different disciplines throughout this week, including volleyball, golf, cycling, tennis and swimming, while padel and kayaking are the latest additions to the Games.

The World Transplant Games, which took place for the first time ever in 1978 in Portsmouth, in which only teams from France, Germany, Greece and the United States took part, are celebrated every two years.

This year's edition in Malaga will not only see more than 2,300 athletes compete, but also, for the first time, donors are being allowed to participate as well as recipients of organs.