2018 Winter Paralympics kick off in Pyeongchang

2018 Winter Paralympics kick off in Pyeongchang

South Korean President Moon Jae-in officially declared open the Winter Paralympic Games here this evening after a vibrant and colourful ceremony that emphasised passion and co-existence, Inside the Games reports.

Moon watched his country’s delegation march separately from North Korea’s following a dispute yesterday over the unification flag to be carried. North Korea said that it wanted the flag to show Dokdo, the island grouping at the centre of a diplomatic dispute between South Korea and Japan, while South Korea apparently wanted to have the unification flag without it so as not to politicise the event. Ultimately, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decided that it did not want any further debate on the matter and suggested the two Koreas march separately at the Opening Ceremony.

Nordic skier Kim Jong-hyon carried North Korea’s flag, while South Korea were led out by cross-country skier and biathlete Sin Eui Hyun, considered the country’s prime gold medal candidate. Moon was invited to do the official declaration by IPC President Andrew Parsons, who followed Pyeongchang 2018 counterpart Lee Hee-beom in delivering a speech.

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. It was followed by the playing of the South Korean national anthem and hoisting of the country's flag before the traditional Parade of Nations was held. A second artistic segment, entitled Possible Dreams, then took centre stage and was based around Sojeong, a girl with a visual impairment.

Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic mascot Bandabi glided on a snowboard and handed over a pair of warm earmuffs to Sojeong. Upon putting on the earmuffs, the white land of Pyeongchang unfolded in front of her and children ran out to play in the snow.

Nine days of sports competition at Winter Paralympics are scheduled to begin tomorrow.