Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games kick off

SOCHI, Russia - The 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi kicked off with an opening ceremony at Fisht Stadium in Sochi's Olympic Park.

Around 575 athletes from 45 countries, including Ukraine, are attending the ten-day sports event, which is being held for the 11th time across five sports including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.

At the opening ceremony, during the athletes parade Ukraine were only represented by their flag-bearer, Mykailo Tkachenko, although other team members were in the stadium.

The Ukrainian Paralympic committee only announced their participation a few hours beforehand, a decision welcomed by the International Paralympic Committee.

"We are delighted as we want sports to prevail...... All week the IPC has been working closely with the Ukrainian Paralympic Committee in an effort to keep them here in Sochi. The talking point of Sochi 2014 needs to be great sport and great athletes, not global politics," IPC chairman Philip Craven said in a statement.

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