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Saturday 23 August 2014

Huge cheer for Ukraine's flag-bearer as Winter Paralympics get under way

Associated Press

Published 08/03/2014 | 02:30

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Flag bearer Mykailo Tkachenko of the Ukraine during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
Flag bearer Mykailo Tkachenko of the Ukraine during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games
Actors perform at the Fisht Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, March 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Actors perform at the Fisht Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.
An icebreaker ship called "Peace" is seen during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, March 7, 2014
An icebreaker ship called "Peace" is seen during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, March 7, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Winter Paralympics in Sochi yesterday.

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The appearance of the Ukranian flagbearer, biathlete Mykhaylo Tkachenko, drew a roar from the capacity crowd at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

The Ukrainian team had announced only a few hours earlier that it would not boycott the games, unless the situation in Crimea escalated.

Competition begins today with Alpine skiing, biathlon, curling and hockey events, with a record 72 gold medals on offer.

Rarely publicly visible in Russian society, disabled people played a leading role in the ceremony, led by singer Yulia Samoilova.

A promotional video for the Paralympics that was displayed at the end of the ceremony explicitly spoke out against discrimination on the grounds of "sexual orientation", a contentious issue in view of Russia's law banning gay "propaganda" among minors.

Irish Independent

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