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N. Korea makes Winter Paralympics debut with rookie skiers

13 March 2018

The Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 officially got underway with a cold but colorful Opening Ceremony on Friday at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang.

The Paralympics will run from March 9 to March 18.

This is the largest Winter Paralympics ever, with 567 athletes from 48 countries plus a team of neutral Paralympic athletes from Russian Federation. There are a record 80 gold medals up for grab, South Korean News Agency (Yonhap) reported.

The North Korean athletes at the Games are two cross-country skiers, Kim Jong Hyon and Ma Yu Chol.

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.

But they entered the stadium separately for the Paralympics after failing to agree on which version of the united flag to use.

Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said that despite this latest hiccup, the countries have pushed diplomacy forward.

The wheelchair-bound skiers appeared at the same temporary stadium in Pyeongchang, about 30 miles (50 kilometres) from the heavily fortified inter-Korean border, where Kim Jong Un's sister attended the opening of last month's Winter Olympics.

"Your extraordinary stories are what dreams are made of and will be told for years to come".

The nation will contest every sport except curling, with a total of 38 Japanese athletes competing in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, biathlon, para ice hockey and snowboarding.

The Paralympic cauldron is lit after the flame arrives in Gangneung, South Korea, on Thursday. Three countries, including North Korea, Georgia and Tajikistan are making their debut this time. Cnossen is a former Navy Seal who lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan.

The North Korean delegation, however, received one of the largest cheers from the crowd - some spectators carried the blue unified Korean flag used at the Olympics' opening ceremony.

"We were still negotiating right up until the very last moment".

N. Korea makes Winter Paralympics debut with rookie skiers