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Para athletes from Russian Federation march in opening ceremony of 2018 Paralympics

10 March, 2018, 01:30 | Author: Janis Wilson
  • Billy Bridges and Team Canada begin play Sunday in the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown. Jason Malloy  The Guardian

The opening ceremony of the biggest Winter Paralympics yet unfolded on Friday night (March 9) with a glittering performance that championed a world of coexistence where differences are embraced and understood.

The games will be much like Winter Olympics - featuring similar sports like skiing and snowboarding - but the athletes competing have certain disabilities such as amputations, blindness or cerebral palsy.

Google's special animated design shows para-athletes racing downhill together.

Asian Paralympic Committee President, Majid Rashed expressed his delight at the huge growth in representation for the region; "The growth in winter para-sports is excellent news for our region".

In another development of the inter Korean diplomacy so prominently boosted by the Olympics last month, North Korea indeed will be participating at the Paralympics for the first time.

According to Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, Moon told Bach at the ceremony: "North Korea came to take part in the Pyeongchang Olympics thanks to the IOC's active efforts and support".

Alpine skier Laurie Stephens is the most decorated Paralympian on the team with six medals. They were joined by three other flames - a flame from Stoke Mandeville in Britain, the birthplace of the Paralympics; a flame representing the 1988 Seoul Paralympics; and a digitally created flame - on Saturday in Seoul to form one united flame.

More news: China spends more on defence, emphasis on militarisation

A cheery mood coursed through festivities that lacked the tension of the 2014 Sochi Paralympics, when Ukraine sent only its flag-bearer to the opening ceremony to protest Russia's intervention in the Crimean Peninsula, or the undertones of the 2016 Rio Paralympics, which were stained by financial turmoil and meager ticket sales.

The Paralympic Games first took place in Rome in 1960 and were the Summer Games.

The games will use the same facilities as the Winter Olympics as well as the same supporting staff. Two ice sports - para ice hockey and wheelchair curling - will offer one gold medal each.

Both teams appeared separately under their own countries' flags at the parade during the opening ceremony.

The IPC and POCOG have, however, accepted a proposal by the Korea Paralympic Committee that representatives of the two Koreas carry the Paralympic torch during the opening ceremony. It's the first time North Korean athletes have competed at the Winter Paralympics.

The International Paralympic Committee says 30 athletes from Russian Federation will be allowed to compete in Pyeongchang as neutral athletes after being subjected to extra testing.

Athletes from each country will enter the venue in order of the Korean alphabet, ahead of a speech by South Korean president Moon Jae-In.

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