Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang officially begin with colourful opening ceremony

  • Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang officially begin with colourful opening ceremony

Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang officially begin with colourful opening ceremony

The 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea are underway, and the United States on the first day of competition already won more gold medals than it secured at the entire 2014 Games in Sochi.

Several of those performing had disabilities - a drummer with a prosthetic arm and legs beat a giant traditional drum, and a choir of wheelchair-bound performers sang the South Korean anthem. "Great stories, great achievements, great drama", International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parson told the audience, who sat through three-degree temperatures. They will compete as individuals because Russian Federation is banned from the Games, due to a doping scandal.

It was the latest stage of a detente on the Korean peninsula that began at last month's Winter Olympics, and culminated with this week's announcement that US President Donald Trump had agreed to meet the North's leader Kim Jong Un.

"Since our first formal agreement signed in 2000, the Paralympic Games and the movement as a whole has grown beyond all recognition", he said.

The first official Paralympic Games took place in 1960, in Rome, Italy, with 400 athletes representing 23 different countries.

South Korea is hosting the Games for the first time. There are 20 athletes in Ukraine's team among the over 570 athletes who expected to compete at the Paralympics this year.

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.

TWO North Korean rookie skiers finished last as they made their country's Winter Paralympics debut in the South today, but a flag-waving crowd cheered enthusiastically at the latest sign of an Olympics-fuelled rapprochement.

Andrew Kurka competes in the men's slalom sitting LW12-1 at the Winter Games New Zealand on August 24, 2015 in Queenstown, New Zealand.

American Daniel Cnossen, a former US Navy Seal, took gold in the men's sit ski.

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.