Winter Paralympics Opening Ceremony gets underway with dazzling fireworks display


Friday's news followed the surprise announcement last night that the two Koreas will not march together under a united Korean flag at today's PyeongChang Winter Paralympics opening ceremony.

Host Russia won a whopping 80 medals at the 2014 Sochi Games with Ukraine coming in a distant second with 25 medals. Their programmes have helped a number of athletes from Asia to attend the Games, including for the first time athletes from Tajikistan and North Korea.

The Opening Ceremony begun with an artistic segment entitled Let's Move, which saw Myeongjin Shin, an amputee performer with a prosthetic arm and legs, beat on a giant drum.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, the athletes were afforded a warm welcome from the 35,000-seater arena with a spectacular performance that drew on South Korean culture via an eclectic mix of traditional buk drumming, K-pop and the climactic lighting of the Paralympic cauldron.

Para nordic skier Brian McKeever holds the most Paralympic medals on the team with 13, including 10 gold, two silver and one bronze, from four Paralympic Games.

The Paralympic snowboard competition begins Monday with men's and women's snowboard-cross.

18 members of the team have won a Paralympic medal.

Russian Federation remains banned from the Paralympics following a decision in 2016 that barred the country from competing in the Rio Summer Paralympics because of a state-run doping system.

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Both teams appeared separately under their own countries' flags at the parade during the opening ceremony.

North Korean officials said they do "not accept the fact that Dokdo can not be marked due to political issues held in Korea", Reuters reported. South Korea said putting the islands on the flag would violate the International Paralympics Committee's recommendation not to politicize sports events.

Seoul will spend approximately USD$120,000 on North Korea's participation in the upcoming PyeongChang Paralympics, the Ministry of Unification (MOU) announced on Friday.

The Paralympic flame traveled a total of 2,018 kilometers, a figure that includes the distance between Seoul and the five cities and counties where the flames were ignited.

In cross-country skiing and biathlon, Oksana Masters is a medal contender in six individual events.

Athletes from each country will enter the venue in order of the Korean alphabet, ahead of a speech by South Korean president Moon Jae-In.

Sin Eui-hyun carries the flag of South Korea as he leads his teammates into the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, March 9, 2018.