The National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) of North and South Korea will march separately at Friday’s (9 March) Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Thursday (8 March) evening.
The IPC had offered both countries the chance to march together under the same conditions as last month’s Olympic Winter Games. However, despite a day of amicable and positive discussions between the two NPCs in the Paralympic Village, the two parties have decided not to march under the same conditions as the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “Although we are disappointed, we respect the decision of the two NPCs who decided that marching separately would be better for both parties.
“The IOC made great progress in opening up dialogue between the two nations ahead of last month’s Olympic Winter Games and I think having North Korea participate in PyeongChang 2018 is a great step forward for the Paralympic Movement. The fact that the NPC will make its Winter Games debut here in South Korea I also believe is hugely significant.
“During today’s discussions it was clear that NPC North Korea respects and values the IPC’s vision and mission. Going forward, it has committed to working further with the IPC to improve the lives of people with an impairment in North Korea.
“At the end of the meeting both NPCs recognised that their participation in PyeongChang 2018 has brought them closer together, and the two have committed to working more closely together in the future. I think this underlines the tremendous ability of sport to bring countries together in positive dialogue.
“I hope that 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.”