Paralympics closing controversy

The closing ceremony celebrations for the Athens Paralympics have been scrapped after the deaths of seven teenagers on their way to the Games.

The Paralympic flag flew at half-mast and spectators observed a minute's silence in tribute to the school students.

But the decision to scale back tonight's ceremony has come under fire from an Australian athlete and many Greeks.

Seven high school students were killed and 30 other people were injured when a bus taking them from Farkadona in central Greece to the capital for the Paralympics collided with a truck loaded with glass.

Police say the truck apparently jackknifed into oncoming traffic about 150 kilometres from Athens and then smashed into the bus.

Witnesses reported that one of the trucks tyres burst moments before the crash.

Paralympic organisers removed the party element of the closing ceremony, leaving just the athletes entry, a speech by International Paralympic President Phil Craven and the handover of the flag to Beijing.

Australia’s chef de mission at the games, Paul Bird passed the nations sympathies to the injured and the families of the dead.

"It's more of a tragedy because these are the kids that have really made the Athens Paralympic games such a terrific success," he said.

Australian gold medallist Katrina Webb echoed his tribute but said the Games celebrations should continue.

"Things like this happen, you cant stop everything. Life goes on," she said.

"We should make sure we pay our respects in that regard but things should continue as they were."

Source: SBS

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