Winter Paralympics opening ceremony begins in Pyeongchang


Great Britain has 14 athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Paralympics
Winter Paralympics on the BBC
Venue: Pyeongchang, South Korea Dates: 9-18 March Time in Pyeongchang: GMT +9
Coverage: Follow on Radio 5 live and via the BBC Sport website. Television coverage on Channel 4.

The largest Winter Paralympics has officially started, with the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games.

A spectacular light show and fireworks marked the start of the ceremony, which includes the athletes parade and the lighting of the flame.

Snowboarder Owen Pick, a former soldier who had his leg amputated after being injured in Afghanistan, carried the British flag.

A record 567 athletes from 48 countries will take part in the Paralympics.

In addition, there is a ‘neutral Paralympic athlete’ delegation – Russian athletes allowed to compete after a report found evidence of state-sponsored doping in their homeland.

Eight years ago I was fighting for this flag – Pick

There will be 80 medals awarded in six sports – alpine skiing, snowboarding, Para-ice hockey, wheelchair curling and the nordic skiing disciplines of cross country and biathlon.

Pope Francis has sent his greetings to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and all the Para-athletes competing.

“Sport can build bridges between countries in conflict, giving a valid contribution and perspectives for peace among people,” he said.

Mexico’s one representative at the Paralympics is Arly Aristides Velasquez Penaloza, who is due to take part in the men’s downhill, sitting

Three countries will be making their first Winter Paralympic appearance in South Korea.

North Korea are making their Winter Paralympics debut, with two athletes in the cross country skiing. Unlike in the Olympics, where North and South Korean athletes marched at the opening ceremony under a unified flag, the two nations will remain separate for the Paralympics ceremony.

Georgia and Tajikistan are also making their Winter Games debuts, while the USA will have the largest team – 68 athletes.

How the Winter Paralympics has evolved

This is the 12th Winter Paralympics.

Sixteen nations took part in the first one in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, in 1976.

The previous biggest Paralympic Winter Games in terms of athlete numbers were held in Nagano, Japan, in 1998 when 562 athletes took part.

At Sochi 2014, 550 were involved.

The sporting action will begin with the men’s and women’s downhill skiing events from 00:30 GMT on Saturday with the closing ceremony on 18 March.



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