Background to the Games

These were the 12th Paralympic Winter Games, an international multi-sport event held in PyeongChang, South Korea, from the 9th to 18th March 2018. They were the second Paralympics to be held in South Korea, following the 1988 Summer Paralympics in Seoul.

569 athletes representing 49 countries participated in these Games, including 3 newcomers Georgia, North Korea and Tajikistan. Following its debut as disciplines under the alpine programme in Sochi, snowboarding was expanded into a separate sport with 8 additional events.

The Pyeongchang Paralympics is the largest Winter Games to date, and most successful with an increased number of tickets sold and more media participation and broadcasting. It was also a monumental achievement for the host country, Korea.

'Actualising the Dream' was a new project that the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee launched as part of hosting the Games. It was a project that was used to promote Paralympic winter sports, raising awareness of Para sport and its athletes while securing the social inclusion of people with an impairment.

The build-up to the Games



The slogan for the Games was 'Passion. Connected' and the two words highlighted the objectives and the legacies of the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

'Passion' symbolised PyeongChang Games as the stage of a global festival where people will exchange inspirations, share the Koreans’ warm unique hospitality, and experience the excitement of the Olympic and Paralympic spirit.

'Connected' signified the openness of PyeongChang where all generations can participate anytime and anywhere through Korea’s cutting-edge technology and cultural convergence. It also showcases the meaning of a new beginning and opening new horizons for winter sports in Asia to spread further throughout the world.

Combined, 'Passion. Connected.' expressed PyeongChang’s vision to expand the enthusiasm for and participation in winter sports to a wider audience throughout Asia, opening new horizons for winter sports and the Winter Games.

Changes to Events

Following its debut as disciplines under the Alpine programme in Sochi, snowboarding was expanded into a separate sport with 8 additional events.


The Alpensia Resort was the main venue for the Games, located in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang.

  • Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium – Opening and closing ceremonies
  • Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre – Ski jumping, Nordic combined, snowboarding (big air)
  • Alpensia Biathlon Centre – Biathlon
  • Alpensia Cross-Country Centre – Cross-country skiing, Nordic combined
  • Alpensia Sliding Centre – Luge, bobsleigh, skeleton
  • Yongpyong Alpine Centre – Alpine skiing (slalom, giant slalom)
  • Pyeongchang Olympic Village

Stand alone venues:

  • Phoenix Snow Park in Bongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang – Freestyle skiing, snowboarding
  • Jeongseon Alpine Centre in Pyeongchang's neighboring county of Jeongseon – Alpine skiing (downhill, super-G, combined)

The coastal cluster is located in Pyeongchang's neighboring city of Gangneung. The Gangneung Olympic Park included the following four venues:

  • Gangneung Hockey Centre – Ice hockey (men´s tournament)
  • Gangneung Curling Centre – Curling
  • Gangneung Oval – Long track speed skating
  • Gangneung Ice Arena – Short track speed skating, figure skating

Additionally, another venue was located in the grounds of the Catholic Kwandong University:

  •  Kwandong Hockey Centre - Ice hockey (womens tournament)


© IPC (International Paralympic Committee)

'Bandabi' an Asiatic (Asian) black bear was unveiled as the official 2018 Paralympic mascot on the 2nd June 2016.

The Asiatic Black Bear is a symbol of strong will and courage and the animal of Gangwon Province. In the name 'Bandabi', 'banda' comes from 'bandal' meaning 'half-moon', indicating the white crescent on the chest of the Asiatic Black Bear, and “bi” has the meaning of celebrating the Games.

The Paralympic Flame

Paralympians Sophie Christiansen CBE and Ali Jawad light the torch during the Paralympic Heritage Flame lighting ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, before the start of the PyeongChang Games in March 2018.

On one of the coldest days of the year, the important Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony took place at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement. The Flame was lit by Paralympians Sophie Christiansen CBE and Ali Jawad.

An archer launched the first in a sequence of fireworks, before ‘Spirit of Endeavour’ told the story of individual courage beginning with Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann and extending it to all those who have competed and triumphed in the Paralympic Games. 

Lauren Barton, Production Manager for the event said:

Despite the exceptionally bad weather and the subsequent decision to close the event to the public, we were humbled by the incredible determination of the Paralympians to make this important ceremonial moment happen in horrendous conditions. Walk the Plank has a rich history of marking important sporting occasions, both large and small, with ceremonial moments such as this and we were particularly proud to have produced this piece for the 2018 Paralympic Games Heritage Flame Events. 

The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Torch Relay took place between the 2nd and 9th March, an eight-day celebration involving 200 torchbearers.

The opening ceremony

The city of PyeongChang welcomed the return of the Paralympics to South Korea for the first time since Seoul 1988, when the Olympic and Paralympic Games were held together in the same city for the first time. The opening ceremony took place at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on March 9th 2018.

The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, was built specifically for the Games, it seated 35,000 and was only used for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies not for any Paralympic or Olympic events.

Competing countries entered the stadium in alphabetical order based on their names in the Korean language, with the host country, South Korea, concluding the march. 

The beats from traditional Korean instruments resounded outside the walls of the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, sending a message on Friday 9th March that the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games are open.

Hee-beom Lee, President of the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee:

Everyone is equal. The Republic of Korea is now welcoming you with its upgraded and matured status in all levels such as political, economic, social, and cultural aspects. Nowadays the world is indeed embracing people with impairment on an equal basis not only in sport, but also all other social sectors as a whole. Sporting population mostly inclusive of people with impairment has exploded by leaps and bounds in recent years.

Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC):

Everything starts with a dream, great stories, great achievements, great drama. In a dream anything is possible. The journey of an athlete starts with a dream: the dream of competing in sport; of representing your country; of winning a medal and writing your name in to history.


During the Games

PyeongChang 2018 was elected as host city following one round of voting at the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa. Three cities bid for the Games: PyeongChang, South Korea - 63 votes, Munich, Germany - 25 votes, and Annecy, France - 7 votes.

The 10-day Paralympic event witnessed a record 569 athletes from 49 countries – more than any previous Winter Games - compete in 80 medal events across 7 sports. Georgia, North Korea and Tajikistan made their Winter Paralympic debut.

The Medals

Medals for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games ©POCOG

The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games medals are similar in design to the Olympic Games medals but have individual characteristics and include Korean culture and traditions. Korean designer Lee Suk-Woo, has engraved traditional patterns of clouds, mountains, wind and wood that symbolise the beautiful nature of PyeongChang and Gangwon Province and uses the Korean Hangeul alphabet to engrave the  “PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games’ around the edge.

The Paralympic symbol of three agitos appears on one side of the medal; and the Paralympic Winter Games logo, along with the name of the specific sport feature on the other side. Both sides of the medals have horizontal lines that represent the Paralympic values of equality while on the back there is also brail, which reads 'PyeongChang2018'.

The medal ribbon has been created using the traditional Gapsa textile. It is light and translucent and made in the teal and red colours used to make the traditional dress of Korea called 'hanbok'. The ribbon is also stitched with a snowflake pattern.

The medal cases use the simple, elegant curved lines and shapes seen in the eaves of 'hanok', Korea's traditional housing. 

Lee Hee-beom, President of PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee said:

The Paralympic Winter Games medals for PyeongChang 2018 are a symbol of equality, creativity, culture and passion. The work that has gone into the design and manufacturing of the medals has been world class and we are all looking forward to the moment that the first medal will be awarded to the world’s best Paralympic athletes.

Medal statistics

26 of the 49 competing countries won a medal, beating the record set at the Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Winter Games. A record 20 countries won gold, beating the previous best of 17 set at the Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games. The ParalympicsGB team consisted of 9 men and 5 women, competing in alpine skiing and nordic skiing, they had a successful Games, winning a total of 1 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze medals.

British Paralympic athletes

  • Menna Fitzpatrick
    For her first Paralympic Games alpine skier Menna, with guide Jennifer Kehoe, won gold in the Women's Slalom visually impaired, silver medals in the Women's Giant Slalom and Women's Super-combined, and bronze in the Women's Super-G.
  • Millie Knight
    Alpine skier Millie, with guide Brett Wild, won two silver medals in Women's Downhill and Super-G visually impaired, and bronze in Women's Slalom.
  • Scott Meenagh
    Scott Meenagh became the first British athlete to compete in nordic skiing since Terry Ahrens in Nagano 1998.

Menna Fitzpatrick and her guide Jennifer Kehoe with their silver medals from competing in the
Women's Giant Slalom at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games 
© Getty Images

Media coverage at the event

PyeongChang 2018 broke all international broadcast and online viewing records for a Paralympic Winter Games, attracting more broadcasters and viewers to date.

The Games were broadcast in more than 100 territories and attracted a cumulative audience of 2.02 billion people according to Nielson Sports figures who published on behalf of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Additionally, a further 251.5 million were reached via the coverage on the IPC’s digital media channels.

According to Nielsen Sport’s figures, 291.5 million people watched the Opening Ceremony on the 9th March, almost 60 million more than they did for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Online, the Games proved to be massively popular with activities reaching more than 251.5 million people around the world, almost four times the number reached during Sochi 2014, and close to three times the number reached by London 2012.

In addition to this, more than 13 million people viewed video content on social media  accounts controlled by the IPC, while a further 4.15 million people watched the Games either live or on demand via the IPC’s YouTube channel. The IPC’s website drew 60 per cent more visitors than it did for Sochi 2014.

A record 343,000 spectators attended the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics with 629 accredited media covering the Games, 15 per cent more than Sochi 2014.

The closing ceremony

The Games came to an end with a fireworks display on the 18th March during the Closing Ceremony held at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium.

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons' final speech referred to world-renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking, who passed away on Wednesday 14 March 2018.

The Closing Ceremony also included the official presentation of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award for New Zealand's alpine skier Adam Hall and Finland's Nordic skier Sini Pyy, the two Paralympians who were considered to best exemplify the spirit and values of the Games.

The closing ceremony’s final act was then performed by The Bae Hui Gwan Band, made up of Musicians with impairments. They were joined by South Korean Pop Star Ailee to celebrate the tremendous achievements of the Games. 

Hee-beom Lee, President of the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee:

Touching stories of human victory drama showcased by Para athletes through these Games will be remembered forever in our hearts. PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games connected the world as one, and South and North Korean athletes also raised together the Paralympic Torch. Paralympic Flame, as it may extinguish, will bring together the world forever in a spirit of peace far beyond the Korean Peninsula.

Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC):

Tonight is a celebration that if you dare to dream, you must do your best to fulfil it. One man who had a dream was the late Stephen Hawking – an inspiration to us all. He urged us all to look at the stars and not our feet. Over the last 10 days, the stars have shone brightly here in Pyeongchang. While Hawking tested the limits of his imagination, Paralympians have pushed the boundaries of endeavour. The world has focused not on what holds you back, but on what pushes you forward. Every generation gets a chance to change the world. Paralympians! This is your time to be a catalyst for a more inclusive society.


  • Edited by Vanlandewijck Y.C., Thompson W.R., Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science: Training and Coaching the Paralympic Athlete, John Wiley & Sons.