The PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games have kicked off a ten-day run in South Korea with a grand opening ceremony.
The event got under way at 8 p.m. on Friday at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in the county in eastern Gangwon Province.
Bringing together 570 athletes from 49 countries, including North Korea, it is the biggest Paralympics to date.
A total of 80 gold medals are up for grabs, which is eight more than the Sochi Paralympic Games in 2014. They will be sought after in six sporting categories: alpine skiing, snowboarding, biathlon, cross-country skiing, para ice hockey and wheelchair curling.
North Korea has sent a 24-member delegation, including two athletes to compete at the Games, para-Nordic skiers Ma Yu-chol and Kim Jong-hyon. This is also the first time the communist regime has sent its athletes to any Paralympics, winter or summer.
Because of a state-sponsored doping scandal, Russia will participate in the Games under the banner of Neutral Paralympic Athletes.
The two Koreas did not march together during the opening ceremony due to differences on the image of Dokdo being included on the Unified Korean flag. The South followed the International Paralympic Committee’s recommendation not to politicize sporting events, while the North insisted the flag depict the Korean Dokdo Islets in the East Sea that Japan claims as its own territory.
As the host country, South Korea is also fielding its largest Paralympic delegation at PyeongChang, with 83 representatives, including 36 athletes.
Team Korea is aiming for a top ten finish with the target of one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.