Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics open as biggest in history

A record 567 disabled athletes, representing 48 countries and regions, as well as the Neutral Paralympic Athlete delegation, will compete in South Korea over a 10-day span. Medals will be up for grabs in 80 events in six sports.

The two Korean nations agreed to "respect each other's stance and march separately" following the flag disagreement, BBC reported.

ParalympicsGB has sent a 17-strong team of athletes, though only snowboarders Pick, Ben Moore and James Barnes-Miller, and 2014 gold-medal-winning visually impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Gary Smith attended the ceremony.

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea The opening ceremony of the biggest Winter Paralympics yet unfolded Friday night with a glittering performance that championed a world of coexistence where differences are embraced and understood.

The 36-year-old from St. Cloud, Minn., will make his Paralympic debut after learning to snowboard in 2011.

Some of the adapted sports have become hits with spectators, such as fast and furious para ice hockey where competitors slide around on double-bladed sledges. Thirty athletes, who have met strict conditions, were approved by the International Paralympic Committee to compete as Neutral Paralympic Athletes in Pyeongchang.

According to the Google Doodle blog, there are more women competing in this year's Paralympic games than any previous games: "Over 670 athletes, including more female athletes than ever before, have the chance to show their skills after years of hard work and training".

The IPC offered the two nations' paralympic committees a similar arrangement to their Olympic counterparts, but they couldn't see eye-to-eye over the depiction of Korea on the unification flag.

There was a silver lining, though, in the unity among the two torchbearers - one North Korean and one South Korean.

American Daniel Cnossen, a former US Navy Seal, took gold in the men's sit ski. The remaining athletes compete on Saturday.

Unlike the Olympics opening ceremony, North and South Korea's athletes did not march together after failing to agree on which version of the unified flag to use.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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