By Nick Butler

Celebrations were held to mark four years to go until the Sochi 2014 Paralympics ©Pyeongchang 2018March 10 - A commemoration event has been held in Sochi to mark exactly four years to go until the opening of the next Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Held in Pyeongchang House in the Olympic Park, more than 150 visitors and media attended a special event, including representatives from the Olympic and Paralympic Movements and from the Organising Committees for both Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018. 

Among those present was International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven, Pyeongchang 2018 head Kim Jin-sun and former International Olympic Committee boss Jacques Rogge. 

Together with everyone else, they enjoyed a programme featuring a musical performance by visually handicapped South Korean singer, Lee Areum, before some characteristic Korean cultural dances staged by local artists from the Gangwon Region. 

President Kim and IPC boss Sir Philip Craven at the event to mark four years to go ©Pyeongchang 2018President Kim and IPC boss Sir Philip Craven at the event to mark four years to go ©Pyeongchang 2018

The venue of Pyeongchang House, which is showcasing the best of both the future Paralympic host city and South Korea as a whole, was particularly apt, and this was something referred to in the speeches which followed the entertainment.  

"We are thrilled to note that 230,000 people visited Pyeongchang House during the Olympics, and so far 680 people have applied as volunteers here in Sochi for our 2018 Pyeongchang Games," said President Kim. 

"Our Pyeongchang Games preparations are well underway and on schedule - we will deliver world-class barrier-free conditions so that the Paralympic athletes will have every opportunity to achieve their sporting best.

"Pyeongchang will stage an extraordinary Games, bringing people with and without impairments together, to experience inspirational sporting moments according to the Paralympic values."

IPC President Sir Philip Craven was another speaker at the event ©Pyeongchang 2018IPC President Sir Philip Craven was another speaker at the event ©Pyeongchang 2018

Sir Philip, who will have finished his final term in office shortly before the Games, described similarly how "Pyeongchang 2018's vision is exactly what the Paralympic Movement is all about."

He added: "Through our strategic plan we want to create more opportunities for people with impairments to play sport, while at the same time breaking down society's barriers.

"The Organising Committee's 'Actualising the Dream' Project - aimed at promoting Paralympic winter sports - will certainly help in achieving that vision because Paralympic sport has a track record for driving social inclusion, no matter where is takes place."

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