PyeongChang to host largest Winter Paralympics next month

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Seoul, Feb 26 (IANS) The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games will be the largest Winter Paralympics in history, local organisers said on Monday.

PyeongChang’s organising committee said 570 athletes from 49 countries had registered for the March 9-18 competition as of Saturday, reports Yonhap news agency.

The 2014 Sochi Paralympics had previously been the biggest, with 547 athletes from 45 countries.

According to the organisers, the United States has the greatest number of athletes at 68, followed by Canada at 52 and Japan at 38.

Host nation South Korea will send a record 36 athletes competing in all six sports to the Winter Olympics.

North Korea, which has been granted an exceptional invitation by the International Paralympic Committee, will have two athletes in cross-country skiing.

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Russia has registered 30 para athletes in four sports, but due to the doping scandal, they will compete under the name Neutral Paralympic Athlete (NPA), according to the organisers.

The organisers added that three nations — North Korea, Georgia and Tajikistan — will make their first Winter Paralympics appearances.

The PyeongChang Paralympics will also offer the most gold medals in Winter Paralympics history with 80, eight more than at Sochi 2014.

The Winter Paralympic Games will take place at the same venues as the Winter Olympic Games, which ended its 17-day journey Sunday.

The opening and closing ceremonies, as well as most snow sports, will be staged in PyeongChang, while alpine skiing events will be contested in Jeongseon, 215 km east of Seoul.

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Gangneung, a coastal city in Gangwon Province, will host all ice sports during the Paralympics.

At the PyeongChang Paralympics, 78 gold medals are up for grabs in four snow sports — para alpine skiing, para snowboard, para biathlon and para cross-country skiing. Two ice sports — para ice hockey and wheelchair curling — offer one gold medal each.

South Korea aims to finish inside the top 10 with four medals — one gold, one silver and two bronze medals — at the Winter Paralympics at home.

–IANS

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