Winter Paralympics open in cheery mood

Volunteers build snow-versions of Soohorang and Bandabi official mascots of the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Volunteers build snow-versions of Soohorang and Bandabi official mascots of the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

More than 600 athletes are set to compete in the 2018 Winter Games, including 44 percent more female athletes than competed in the 2014 games. Nearly every Asian nation has increased the size of their team with China trebling their cohort and Japan doubling theirs.

Bach was given the Cheongryong Medal, South Korea's highest sporting honour, by President Moon Jae-in in a ceremony at the Blue House in Seoul. The APC supported the DPRK athletes through a financial grant that enabled them to attend a World Cup event which in turn led to them being offered bi-partite slots for PyeongChang.

Luckily the Winter Paralympics is about the start, so you can get your fix of shouting at the telly for Team GB. Masters is a four-time Paralympian who competed in rowing in 2012 and in cycling in 2016.

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Paralympic events begin on Saturday. It is also the largest Winter Paralympics ever in terms of participation - 570 athletes from 49 nations have registered to participate - according to the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG).

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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Alpine skier Laurie Stephens is the most decorated Paralympian on the team with six medals. He is the flag-bearer for today's opening ceremonies. Ouellet and Hickey will be making their Winter Games debuts. This change was made when an agreement was reached between the International Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee was reached. The Neutral Paralympic Athlete delegation is also participating.

Seo Soon-seok and Kim Eun-jung of South Korea take the flame during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on March 9, 2018.

President Thomas Bach has received a state medal from South Korea for his contribution to the Winter Olympic Games here last month.

The two-hour opening ceremony will be orchestrated by Lee Moon-tae, the president of the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation who previously produced various entertainment programs at the Korean Broadcasting System, one of the largest broadcasters in the country.

Despite the separated marches, there was a moment of unity later in the ceremony as one of the North Korean skiers, Ma, carried the Paralympic torch alongside South Korean cross-country skier Choi Bogue.

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