Paralympics 2012 Opening Promises 'Journey of Discovery'

London has prepared for the 2012 Paralympics opening ceremony, which will welcome 11 days of competition for athletes with disabilities.

More than 4,000 athletes from 147 countries will participate in the Paralympic Games, where the opening ceremony is scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday. The show aims to transform ideas about disability and the undefeatable human spirit.

The games run until Sept. 9 and will see competition in 20 different sports including cycling, judo, and swimming.

Just under a month after the 2012 Olympics, the Paralympic opening ceremony will see Professor Stephen Hawking and actor Sir Ian McKellen narrate a scientific "journey of discovery," according to BBC. The narration was inspired by Prof. Hawking's book "A Brief History of Time."

Hawking has been named as one of the best-known disabled person in the world. The British professor has a motor neuron disease and has been paralyzed for most of his life.

The event's themes will be empowerment and the challenging of perceptions of human possibility, according to the show's two artistic directors.

"What came through to us was the humanity and humor of Professor Hawking," artistic director Bradley Hemming told Yahoo News. "He's a fun guy."

The ceremony will involve 3,000 performers, many of which are disabled. Also, some 2,000 volunteers will take part in the event, and 80,000 people will watch from the stands in Stratford, east London on Wednesday.

The U.S. has 227 athletes competing in the games, comprised of 133 men and 94 women. 20 of the American Paralympians are U.S. military veterans, according to the Team USA site.

Malawi has withdrawn from the competition due to lack of funding.

Members of the Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are scheduled to attend events during the Paralympics, including the opening ceremony.

Later during the Games, Prince Harry is scheduled to attend swimming events next Monday. The 27-year-old will also attend goalball, cycling, and select other events alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.