Pyeongchang: North and South Korea will march separately at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced. The two countries walked out together under a united flag at the Olympics last month and the IPC offered them the same opportunity again. However, after "a day of amicable and positive discussions" in the Paralympic Village, the decision was made that there will be no repeat at Friday's ceremony.
"Although we are disappointed, we respect the decision of the two National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) who decided that marching separately would be better for both parties," said IPC president Andrew Parsons on Thursday.
"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."
The Winter Olympics featured a unified Korean ice hockey team in the women's competition.