Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang officially begin with colourful opening ceremony

Cheryl Sanders
March 13, 2018

At Friday's ceremony, South Korean President Moon Jae-in officially declared the Paralympics open in sub-zero temperatures before fireworks lit up the night sky.

Nordic para skier Sin Eui-hyun earned South Korea's first medal at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games Sunday, taking bronze in the men's 15-kilometer sitting cross-country skiing event.

The Paralympics, which follows last month's Winter Olympic Games, will be held in PyeongChang and neighboring cities Gangneung and Jeongseon through March 18. Paralympics 2018 will break the record number of participants - 567 athletes from 49 countries.

Slovakian skier Henrieta Farkasova won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Paralympics Saturday and the United States of America clinched a hat-trick of victories as sporting action got under away at Games marked by a rapid inter-Korean thaw.

At the summer Games achievements of Ukrainian Paralympic athletes are even more impressive: in Atlanta-1996, Sydney-2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016 "blue-yellow" team won the 374 medals (125, 115, 134)!

After marching together for the beginning of the Winter Olympics, North and South Korea marched separately at the start of the Paralympics. The Neutral Paralympic Athlete delegation is also participating.

The first competition day of the Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang has brought the national team of Belarus four medals - all in biathlon.

Ahn Sun-yong, 48, added: "We were one country before, and we want reunification some day".

In an opening address, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons urged the Paralympians to "keep fighting, play fair, have fun and keep pushing your limits". He got into sports by playing wheelchair basketball in 2009 and also played para ice hockey in the past.

For the first time at a Winter Paralympics, two North Koreans will take part, both in cross-country skiing.

Just like the recent Olympics also in Pyeongchang, two issues dominate: Russian Federation and North Korea.

Team Japan athletes wave miniature flags during the opening ceremony.

The rapid inter-Korean thaw has eased tensions that soared a year ago when Pyongyang tested missiles that could reach the USA mainland and detonated what it said was an H-bomb.

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