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Nordic skier to carry S. Korean flag at PyeongChang Paralympics opening ceremony

All Headlines 11:32 March 09, 2018

By Joo Kyung-don

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, March 9 (Yonhap) -- Para Nordic skier Sin Eui-hyun will carry the South Korean national flag at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games on Friday after the host nation and North Korea failed to reach an agreement on a joint parade under a single flag.

The local organizing committee unveiled the list of all flagbearers for the opening ceremony for the 12th Winter Paralympics, set to start at 8 p.m. Friday at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province.

The list showed Sin as the South Korean bearer, while North Korea named sit skier Ma Yu-chol as its representative.

Sin, 37, is considered one of South Korea's top medal contenders at the PyeongChang Paralympics. He will compete in both cross-country skiing and biathlon events.

South Korean para Nordic skier Sin Eui-hyun trains for the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics at Alpensia Biathlon Centre in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on March 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

Ma, 27, is one of the two North Koreans who will compete in PyeongChang. The other is Kim Jong-hyon. The two sit skiers will compete in cross-country skiing events after receiving sa pecial invitation from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

South Korea will have its athletes' parade last among 49 participating countries as the host country, while North Korea, making its Winter Paralympics debut, will march 34th in order behind Japan.

The two Koreas originally planned to have a joint march under the Korean Unification Flag, as they did at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 9. But following discussions on Thursday, they decided to march separately after both sides failed to narrow differences over the flag.

The North wanted to march behind a Korean Unification Flag showing Dokdo -- the eastern islets of South Korea that Japan falsely claims as its own territory -- while the South wanted to have the flag without Dokdo to respect the IPC's recommendation not to politicize sports events.

Dokdo, called Takeshima in Japan, consists of a set of rocky islets lying close to the Korean Peninsula in the East Sea. It has long been a recurring source of tension between the neighbors.

North Korea's para Nordic skier Ma Yu-chol trains for the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics at Alpensia Biathlon Centre in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on March 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

IPC President Andrew Parsons said that the IPC is disappointed, but respects the decisions of the two Koreas.

"At the end of the meeting, both National Paralympic Committees recognized that their participation in PyeongChang 2018 has brought them closer together, and the two have committed to working more closely together in the future," he said. "I think this underlines the tremendous ability of sport to bring countries together in positive dialogue. Now the decision has been made 24 hours in advance of the Opening Ceremony, the focus can now be on the performances of Para athletes on the field of play, not the politics off it.”

The PyeongChang Paralympics, the first Winter Paralympic Games in South Korea, will run until March 18.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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