North Korea in focus as biggest Paralympics opens

Annette Crawford
March 13, 2018

Slovakian skier Henrieta Farkasova won the first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Paralympics Saturday and the US clinched a hat-trick of victories as sporting action got under away at Games marked by a rapid inter-Korean thaw.

The first competition day of the Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang has brought the national team of Belarus four medals - all in biathlon.

Athletes from 48 nations paraded into the stadium on Friday, braving the freezing -5C conditions.

The first USA gold of these Paralympics was the first US gold in the biathlon, with Kendall Gretsch winning the women's 6km sitting biathlon, with teammate Oksana Masters capturing the bronze. The banked slalom event, new to this year's Paralympics, will be held March 16.

It will be the largest Winter Paralympics ever, with 570 athletes competing for 49 nations.

North Korea's athletes took centre-stage as the Winter Paralympics began in South Korea on Friday with a glittering ceremony, after a rapid round of diplomacy hit dizzying heights.

There was hardly any reaction when the Russian athletes entered the arena.

With spectators packing out the stands and waving the blue-and-white Korean unification flag, teenager Kim Jong Hyon and Ma Yu Chol - who both only started skiing three months ago - were the first over the start line in the cross-country race.

At one point a young girl directed illuminated fish that were swimming in the arena floor.

In an opening address, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons urged the Paralympians to "keep fighting, play fair, have fun and keep pushing your limits".

The $106m, 35,000-seater stadium, which will be pulled down after the closing ceremony, looked two thirds full during the ceremony.

Japan complained and South Korea agreed to take the islands off the flag, while North Korea insisted that the islands stay on, according to Reuters.

During the Winter Olympics, the two Koreas marched under a unified flag that displayed Korea with a set of islands in the Sea of Japan, which are now the subject of a territorial dispute.

Google Doodle to mark the commencement of Winter Paralympics 2018.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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