Winter Olympics opening ceremony kicks off in Pyeongchang

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) — The 23rd Olympic Winter Games will officially kick off Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a fantastic spectacle and a parade of participating nations.

Although competition for the 2018 Winter Olympics began Thursday, the much-anticipated opening ceremony will be held Friday, Feb. 9.

The opening ceremony, titled “Peace in Motion,” begins at 8 p.m. local time, or 6 a.m. ET. It will be held at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium in the sleepy mountain town of Hoenggye, located in the Gangwon province of Pyeongchang county. The 35,000-seat temporary venue will also host the closing ceremony.

Spectators at the open-air stadium will be provided with several items to fend off the region’s bitter cold and high winds during the ceremony, including a raincoat; a blanket and knitted hats; and hand, feet and seat warmers.

South Korean actor and producer Song Seung-whan is the executive creative director of the opening ceremony.

Few details have been released about the show. But organizers revealed the story theme of the event last month; the opening ceremony will emphasize peace by following the fairytale-like adventures of five imaginary children from Gangwon province with a cast of thousands of other performers.

“The opening ceremony will weave together the narratives of five lovable protagonists from Gangwon province through cultural performances,” Yang Jung-woong, executive producer of the opening ceremony, said during a Jan. 23 press conference in Pyeongchang. “The stage will unfold like a winter fairytale depicting the children’s adventure.”

Erin Hamlin, the first American athlete to win an Olympic medal in singles luge, will be Team USA’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony Friday.

North and South Korea will be the last to enter the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony. The teams will march together behind a “unification flag” carried by an athlete from each country, according to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Russia’s national Olympic committee was barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics as punishment for its alleged state-sponsored cover-up of doping by its athletes. However, some individual Russian athletes will be allowed to participate in the Games by competing under a neutral Olympic flag.

The Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 Torch Relay will arrive at its final destination of the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony on Friday.

The 700-millimeter torch represents the altitude of Pyeongchang, which is 700 meters above sea level. Its white and gold tones are the main colors of the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 Torch Relay.

The torch was designed by South Korean artist Kim Young-se and was meant to ensure the flame will stay lit in various weather conditions, even South Korea’s strong winds and heavy snow.

This will be the second Olympics held in South Korea; Seoul was the host city for the Summer Olympics in 1988.

The closing ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place Feb. 25.

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