2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics: Opening Ceremony Recap
The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics took place this Friday at the Olympic Stadium in the town of Daegwallyeong in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.
With 92 countries participating, the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics is one of the largest Winter Olympics to date. At the opening ceremony, a giant Korean bell appeared in the center of the stadium as a procession filled with fireworks, lights, and reconstructions of various scenes from Korean history welcomed the athletes.
There has already been much news surrounding this year’s Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee announced last December that Russia is banned due to a doping scandal that had corrupted the results of several Olympics.
Although around 400 Russian athletes had been proven to not have been a part of the doping scandal, only 169 athletes have been allowed to compete this year. The athletes marched under a neutral flag representing “Olympic Athlete from Russia” and wearing neutral colored uniforms of gray and blue.
In addition, there has been a growing concern about an outbreak of a highly contagious norovirus among the security personnel of the Winter Olympics. Confirmed cases of the virus, also known as the “cruise ship virus” or “winter vomiting flu,” has increased from 32 to 86 this year, causing many to worry for the competing athletes.
This news, however, has been overshadowed for the past month by the South Korean effort to join hands with North Korea for the PyeongChang Olympics. Indeed, as the South Korean athletes marched together with the North Korean athletes during the Opening Ceremony, they received the largest standing ovation from the attending audience as well as the most international coverage.
Also highly emphasized and covered by the media was Kim Yo Jung’s presence at the ceremony. Kim Yo Jung is Kim Jong Il’s only sister, and she is the first member of the Kim family to visit South Korea since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953.
On Thursday, Kim Jong Un also unexpectedly invited the South Korean President, Moon Jae-In, to visit Pyeongyang, leading to more questions about the situation regarding North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.
South Korea and North Korea have historically used international games to compete against each other and have rarely shown signs of cooperation in sports diplomacy. The PyeongChang Olympics and South Korea’s hopes of reconciliation have raised many international and domestic questions on how matters regarding the future of the Korean peninsula.