Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Winter Paralympics kick off in Pyeongchang

Winter Paralympics kick off in Pyeongchang

A general view of the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium, South Korea, March 9, 2018.

"There is still room for growth as nineteen Asian nations competed at the Winter Olympic Games but with the next edition taking place in Beijing, we hope that many more Asian para-athletes will be inspired to take up the exciting and challenging winter sports".

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 directed its focus on the achievement of hosting the inaugural North Korean Paralympic team in South Korea despite their history of conflict.

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After marching together for the beginning of the Winter Olympics, North and South Korea marched separately at the start of the Paralympics. Russian athletes, competing under a neutral flag after a mass doping scandal, clinched two golds while France also won two.

There were also golds for Ukraine, with Vitaliy Lukyanenko winning in the men's vision-impaired biathlon, and Canada, with Mac Marcoux clinching victory in the men's vision-impaired downhill skiing.

In his opening remarks, IPC president Andrew Parsons spoke about the growth of the Games and their impact on lives around the world. Although injuries have continued to plague the six-time Alaskan state champion wrestler, he's ready to make his Paralympic debut in downhill and will try to add Paralympic gold to the world downhill title he won in February 2017.

North Korea pulled out of the joint march after South Korea chose to remove islands claimed by Japan from the flag, which depicts the Korean peninsula.

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North Korea had wanted to use a version of the Korean peninsula flag that includes islands disputed with Japan.

Paralympians are an eclectic bunch, ranging from a 61-year-old Japanese ice hockey goaltender to a Mexican who found unlikely success as a mono-skier.

The situation is similar to last month's Paralympic Games, when 169 Russians were allowed to compete.

It is a turnaround from previous year, when tensions soared as the North fired missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland and tested what it said was an H-bomb.

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