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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, October 17, 2018


What stole the focus at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony

2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang

Share on Facebook February 10, 2018, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 830


PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - Many moments stole the show on Friday when the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea kicked of with a colourful opening ceremony.

From the Tongan flag bearer, who sent the social media in a frenzy by going shirtless despite the cold weather - to the historic handshake between the South Korean President Moon Jae In and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong - all moments were watched closely by the international media and experts.

The Winter Olympics officially kicked off with the ceremony, which saw Pita Taufatofua, Tonga’s oiled-up flag bearer from the Rio Games, who made a return. 

The 34-year-old Australian-born Taufatofua, who was raised in Tonga surprised many as he waved the Tongan flag semi-clothed, and is set to try his luck in cross-country skiing this time around.

Another moment that is set to be analyzed very closely over the next few days, will be the South Korean President Moon Jae In and his wife’s greeting of VIPs in their dignitary box.

The duo shook hands with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, who arrived earlier in the day, along with North Korea’s nominal head of state, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam.

The announcement about her visit earlier this week was said to be an extraordinary diplomatic push by the North aimed at using the Olympics to ease tensions with Seoul and bolster unity between the two Koreas.

North Korean Olympic Team

The South Korean President not only shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, but the North and South Koreans spoke briefly and while the contents of the brief conversation remain unknown, all of them were seen smiling.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, who were seated beside the South Korean President, is not said to have had any interaction with the North Koreans, his office confirmed.

An appearance that caught eyeballs at the opening ceremony was by Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un impersonators, who were reportedly kicked out of the opening ceremony.

They also made calls for peace, with the Kim Jong Un impersonator saying, “We get along personally, so I believe that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, if they talked they’d probably get along. Because in my opinion, they’re pretty much the same person,” 

He added, “And Dennis Rodman has confirmed this and he’s met both of them personally,” referring to the former NBA player who has met with the North Korean leader multiple times.

The impersonator added, “So let’s start talking and stop with all the missiles and everything else. We want peace, everybody wants peace, nobody wants war.”

Meanwhile, the South and North Korean team, carrying the blue-and-white Korean unification flag also created news at the ceremony.

South and North Korea last marched together at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and made the symbolic gesture at the opening of the 2000 and 2004 Olympics in Sydney and Athens too.

Before Moon declared the Games open, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said in a statement, "You will inspire us all to live together in peace and harmony despite all the differences we have.”

Two members of the joint Korean women's ice hockey team - one player from the North and one from the South handed the torch to Kim Yu Na, South Korea's former gold medal-winning figure skater, who wore skates as she lit the Olympic cauldron.

Head of the Games organizing committee, Lee Hee-beom meanwhile said, “The North and South have become one through the Olympics. Pyeongchang Olympics will become the hope and light for everyone that hopes for peace, not only on the Korean peninsula but in northeast Asia and the entire world.”

Meanwhile, Russia's athletes entered the ceremony behind a neutral flag after their team was suspended over a doping scandal. 

At Pyeongchang, expectations from an array of stars including American skiers Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn are extremely high.

French flag-bearer Martin Fourcade would be hoping to add to his two gold medals in Sochi in 2014.

And Alpine giant slalom great Marcel Hirscher of Austria will also be seeking a gold medal.

Alina Zagitova of Russia will lock horns with her fellow Russian teen, Evgenia Medvedeva in women's figure skating.

Further, 17-year-old Chloe Kim is tipped for gold in snowboard.

On Saturday, five gold medals will be up for grabs, in ski jumping, cross-country skiing, biathlon, speed skating and short-track speed skating.

In the Games, that are set to end on February 25, 91 countries, and the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" are competing for 102 gold medals in 15 different sports.


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