PyeongChang Winter Paralympics end with celebration of breaking down barriers

PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games
PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games Reuters

The 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Winter Games came to a close on Sunday with a celebration of disabled athletes who broke down barriers during the 10-day competition.

PyeongChang, some 180 kilometres east of Seoul, along with the sub-host cities of Gangneung and Jeongseon, hosted 567 athletes from 49 countries -- both records for Winter Paralympics, reports Yonhap news agency.

The athletes vied for 80 gold medals, also a record for the multi-winter sports event for the disabled.

The closing ceremony at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, titled "We Move the World," brought para-athletes together for one last time in PyeongChang.

The ceremony also featured performers with physical impairments for its art segments, which expressed hope for a world that embraces diversity and differences among people.

At the onset of the ceremony, six South Korean para-athletes, each representing six sports of the Paralympics, carried their national flag into the stadium. They were Jang Dong-shin in para ice hockey, Bang Min-ja in wheelchair curling, Lee Chi-won in alpine skiing, Park Hang-seung in snowboarding, Lee Do-yeon in biathlon and Lee Jeong-min in cross-country skiing.

Then as the participating countries' flags all entered the stadium, Sin Eui-hyun, the cross-country champion for South Korea, served as the flagbearer for the host nation.

During the ceremony, New Zealand's para-alpine skier Adam Hall and Finland's para-Nordic skier Sini Pyy were honoured with the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award.

The Paralympic flag was handed over to Beijing, the next host of the Winter Paralympics in 2022. Then the Paralympic Flame was extinguished at the end of a dance performance called "Dosalpuri," a dance of affections and memories, on the stage on which the flame was projection-mapped.

For the finale, a segment titled "Blooming Happiness," South Korean vocalist Ailee performed with Bae Hui Gwan Band, which is made up of musicians with disabilities.

The PyeongChang Paralympics were the most successful Winter Paralympics in terms of ticket sales, with more than 343,000 tickets sold. The previous record had been 316,200 tickets sold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics.

The United States topped the Winter Paralympic Games for the first time since Albertville 1992 thanks to 13 gold, 15 silver and eight bronze medals.

The Neutral Paralympic Athletes from Russia was second with eight gold, 10 silver and six bronze medals. The Russians were not allowed to compete under their national flag due to a state-sponsored doping scandal.