The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games were officially opened this evening during a Ceremony at the Planai-Stadion in Schladming in Austria.
It signals the commencement of competition at the event, where more than 2,500 athletes are participating.
A total of 107 countries were due to be represented, however, ESPN reports that Ghana and Afghanistan have been denied visas to travel to the host nation
"We are deeply saddened that the delegations from Special Olympics Afghanistan and Special Olympics Ghana were not able to obtain visas to travel to participate and compete in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria," a statement released today by Special Olympics International (SOI) reads.
"Special Olympics is a movement of welcome, opportunity and inclusion, and for these athletes to miss this chance to represent their country on a global stage of acceptance is frustrating and profoundly disappointing.
"The nine athletes and five unified partners who will not be with us will be in our hearts as the nearly 2,600 athletes and unified partners from 105 nations unite the world through sport this week."
Speaking at a press conference today, SOI chairman Tim Shriver said: "We got word last night that two of our teams, from Ghana and Afghanistan, would not be traveling to Austria for the Games because of visa problems.
"You hear numbers - 2,500 athletes - but there were five athletes on their way back to Kabul last night who were hoping and dreaming of competing here.
"It's a reminder that, bureaucracy notwithstanding, we have a lot of work to do and a short time to do it."
Athletes aged between eight and 68 years will compete in nine sports at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, including Alpine skiing, figure skating, floorball, floor hockey, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speed skating and stick shooting.
The Convention Center Graz will play host to floorball, floor hockey and stick shooting, while the Icestadium Graz-Liebenau will stage figure skating and speed skating.
Alpine skiing and snowboarding will take place at Rohrmoos-Untertal, with Nordic skiing and snowshoeing to be held in Ramsau am Dachstein.