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Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang officially begin with colourful opening ceremony

Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang officially begin with colourful opening ceremony

Great Britain has 14 athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Paralympics
bbc.comThe largest ever Winter Paralympics were officially opened in freezing conditions at the Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea.Forty-eight different nations, plus a national Paralympic athletes team consisting of Russian competitors, entered the stadium in -5C temperatures.A record 567 athletes will take part across nine days of competition.
Snowboarder Owen Pick led the British team into the arena as flagbearer.ParalympicsGB has sent a 17-strong team of athletes, though only snowboarders Pick, Ben Moore and James Barnes-Miller, and 2014 gold-medal-winning visually impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Gary Smith attended the ceremony, with the remaining athletes competing on SaturdayThe $106m 35,000-seater stadium, which will be pulled down after the closing ceremony, appeared to be about two thirds full, and the crowd watched a ceremony consisting of traditional Korean dance, combined with modern music and blended with light shows.
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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.
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Mexico's one representative at the Paralympics is Arly Aristides Velasquez Penaloza, who is due to take part in the men's downhill, sittingThree countries will be making their first Winter Paralympic appearance in South Korea.North Korea are one - they have 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.
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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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Host nation South Korea have 36 athletes competing
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