N. Korea makes Winter Paralympics debut with rookie skiers

N. Korea makes Winter Paralympics debut with rookie skiers

Most of the 15 Australian athletes plus officials marched on PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on Friday, with two of the six alpine skiers competing on day one the following morning remaining at the athletes' village.

The show of division came on the same day that President Donald Trump announced that he agreed to meet face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. They marched separately from the South Koreans.

Ukrainian biathlete was first in men's 7.5 km for visually impaired athletes, Ukrinform reports.

There was also a positive reaction when one athlete from North Korea and one from South Korea held the Paralympic flame aloft together before handing it over to start a relay which culminated with a South Korean single-leg amputee abseiling up a ski slope before the cauldron was lit.

South Korea said putting the islands on the flag would violate the International Paralympics Committee's recommendation not to politicize sports events. Ma Yu-chol and Kim Jong-hyon, the first two North Koreans to compete in the Winter Paralympics, were the bottom two finishers as they ended 26th and 27th, respectively.

In an echo of last month's Winter Olympics, 30 Russian athletes are competing as neutrals after the country was banned over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

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The background of the North's athletes suggests their presence is part of Pyongyang's political maneouvring - the pair, both students, only started skiing in December, having previously played disabled table tennis, according to Games organisers.

Some of the adapted sports have become hits with spectators, such as fast and furious para ice hockey where competitors slide around on double-bladed sledges.

South Korean diplomats visited North Korea earlier in the week, before heading to Washington D.C.to debrief the White House.

The Winter Paralympic Games have kicked off in PyeongChang. The Ukrainians will be competing in biathlon, cross-country skiing and snowboarding.

Team Japan athletes wave miniature flags during the opening ceremony.

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