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Arendz ready for Paralympic opening ceremonies

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The South Korean Government has confirmed its intention to steadily phase out the country’s controversial grade system for disabled people

"And if you look at the history of winter sports, the Brits are all over it".

She has competed on every Winter Paralympic team since 2006 along with sled hockey player Steve Cash and Alpine skiing teammate Tyler Walker.

The 2018 Games are the largest Winter Paralympics that has ever been hosted, according to the Pyeongchang Paralympic Committee.

After South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared the Games open, the Paralympic torch arrived at the stadium.

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.

Paralympians are an eclectic bunch, ranging from a 61-year-old Japanese ice hockey goaltender to a Mexican who found unlikely success as a mono-skier.

Four venues will stage events in six sports across 15 disciplines with a record 80 gold medals up for grabs.

Friday's news followed the surprise announcement last night that the two Koreas will not march together under a united Korean flag at today's PyeongChang Winter Paralympics opening ceremony.

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A cheery mood coursed through festivities that lacked the tension of the 2014 Sochi Paralympics, when Ukraine sent only its flag-bearer to the opening ceremony to protest Russia's intervention in the Crimean Peninsula, or the undertones of the 2016 Rio Paralympics, which were stained by financial turmoil and meager ticket sales. It's the first time North Korean athletes have competed at the Winter Paralympics.

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.

"My family used to go on snowboarding vacations, so (after the accident) I leapt at the chance to get back on a board", he said before leaving for South Korea.

He was selected in a vote by U.S. athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced Wednesday.

The South's Korean Paralympic Committee (KPC) said Thursday that the two sides made the decision after discussions.

Moon watched his country's delegation march separately from North Korea's following a dispute yesterday over the unification flag to be carried.

Friday's opening ceremony included several performers with disabilities-a drummer with a prosthetic arm and legs beat a giant traditional drum, and a choir of wheelchair-bound performers sang the South Korean national anthem. The flame for the PyeongChang Paralympics was lit in five South Korean cities and counties - Jeju, Anyang, Nonsan, Gochang and Cheongdo.

Paralympic events begin on Saturday.

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