Monday 19th November 2018

Winter Olympics 2018 Opening Ceremony: Yuna Kim Lights The Torch

- February 10, 2018

The crowning moment of any opening ceremony: the final leg of the torch relay and the lighting of the Olympic caldron. Inbee Park, the golfer, is one of the final torchbearers.

Unified Korean team hears cheers, but not from all.

A unified Korean team of athletes marched out together carrying the unification flag as the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, watched from the stands near Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North Korean leader.

No Russian flag in the parade of nations.

The Olympic flag, lifted by a volunteer instead of an athlete, is carried ahead of the Russian team. Or more precisely, the “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” The absence of the Russian flag is part of the punishment for Russia’s state-backed doping program at the Olympics four years ago. But the Russians still have a robust team of more than 160.

Viktor Ahn misses his chance at a heroic homecoming.

Missing from the group of athletes from Russia was Viktor Ahn, a short track speed skater of South Korean descent. He was among the athletes barred from competing in the Pyeongchang Games. Competing here would have been significant for his career. He was one of South Korea’s best skaters and won his first three Olympic golds while competing for South Korea. But after a bitter falling out with South Korean sports officials, Ahn switched his allegiance to Russia.

Two-time gold medalist Shani Davis skips opening ceremony.

Not everyone was pleased with the selection of Erin Hamlin as the United States’ flag bearer.

In a tweet sent Thursday night, Shani Davis, a four-time medalist in speed skating, said that the United States Olympic Committee had “dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer.”

Davis, competing at his fifth and presumably final Games, added the hashtag, “#BlackHistoryMonth2018.”

Davis did not appear with the rest of the U.S. long track team at its press conference on Thursday afternoon.

That seemed to be a running theme of these Games so far. For instance, Brian Hansen, one of Davis’ teammates, tweeted out two group photos of the team on Thursday, and Davis was missing from both.

Impersonators draw a crowd during parade.

There was some commotion in one section of the stadium midway through the parade of athletes when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un — or, rather, impersonators of them — appeared near the bottom row of stands.

There was the famous red baseball cap and red power tie. There was the famous fade haircut.

Spectators and members of the news media rushed down to snap photographs of the fake Trump and Kim, who were happy to ham it up for the cameras.

Eventually a crew of perturbed-looking ushers came down and broke up the crowd, forcing the pair to leave the stands.

A slight change in the program.

With the North Koreans deciding just a month before the start of the Winter Games to send a delegation, there was little time to adjust the opening ceremony show. Five hours before the start of the opening ceremony, Song Seung-whan, a South Korean actor and popular theatrical producer who directed the show, said that he had only tinkered with one segment of it to reflect North Korea’s presence. (He would not offer any spoiler alerts.)

As it turns out, the weather on Friday night was practically balmy, expected to fall only to about 28 degrees.

Thomas Bach, gold medalist, opens the Games.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, makes his appearance. As always, he is introduced as a “gold medal winner” (he won a fencing medal in 1976).

Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is also in attendance, together with the North’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea shook hands with Ms. Kim briefly.

Let the ceremony begin.

The 2018 Winter Games opening ceremony has begun. There are several unusual things about the site for the ceremony, Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. First off, it’s small. Seating 35,000, it is dwarfed by the likes of the Maracana (78,000) which played host in 2016. Second, it’s just for the ceremony, not any athletic events. Third, it’s temporary. It will be demolished after the Games. And lastly it is an unusual shape, a pentagon. Look for some other “5” symbolism in tonighere.

Temperatures dipped to around 28 degrees as fans started to enter the stadium an hour before the ceremony, and steady winds made it feel far chillier than that.

“Just wear layers and layers to protect yourself from the wind,” said Lauri Leppanen, 38, who was visiting from Turku, Finland, with his partner, Sanna Saarinen, 35. “I’m wearing merino wool, which is pretty cozy.”

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