The countdown to the ninth winter Paralympic games was set to begin on 1 March at 18.30 with a double flame lighting ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome and the Piazza della Repubblica in Turin. The lighting of the torch in Rome has a symbolic importance, since the city hosted the first summer Paralympic Games in 1960 Paralympics Games. Turin, where the 20th winter Olympics have just concluded, will play host to 600 disabled athletes from 40 countries on 10-19 March. The athletes will compete in five different disciplines: alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, biathlon, ice-sledge hockey and wheelchair curling, for 58 medals.