Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony: Pyeongchang Welcomes The World

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The Olympic rings at the Athletes’ Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

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Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The Olympic rings at the Athletes’ Village ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics is underway — at 8 p.m. in South Korea and at 6 a.m. ET in the U.S. — with 2,900 athletes from 92 countries gathering to compete for 102 medals in Pyeongchang.

The U.S. Olympic team will be led into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium by flag-bearer Erin Hamlin.

The Winter Games run from Feb. 9-25. The Paralympics will use many of the same facilities, with 670 athletes competing from March 9-18.

The Ceremony Begins

The themes of the ceremony are harmony and convergence, and passion and peace.

The ceremony begins with the type of spectacle we’ve learned to look forward to at the Olympics, with artful projections on the floor and a large troupe of costumed dancers. The action revolves around five children, local actors who live in Pyeongchang’s Gangwon Province.

The organizers explain: “The number five comes from the five Olympic Rings, and the names of the children’s characters come from the Five Elements — fire, water, wood, metal, and earth — which are believed to make up the universe.”

The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium’s pentagon shape also includes a combination of different geometrical shapes — circle, square, and triangle — representing heaven, earth, and mankind, the organizers say.

The shape also means there will be five different entrances to the stage.


South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in enters the stadium, followed by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

Parade of Athletes

By tradition, Greece, the home of the original Olympics, enters first; the host country enters last. In this case, South Korea’s athletes will enter alongside their counterparts from North Korea, walking beneath a flag of unity, bearing the shape of the Korean Peninsula.

The other 89 nations will enter according to the Korean alphabet – a situation that has led to confusion among some viewers in the past, as they wonder at the order.

The U.S. team will enter after all the countries whose names begin with “M” — so, after Malta and Mongolia and before Bermuda and Belgium. The Americans will be the 26th delegation to enter the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.

Other notable entries include the Olympic Athlete from Russia team, who will enter as the 55th delegation.

The U.S. Flag-Bearer

Erin Hamlin shocked many when she won bronze at the last Winter Olympics in Sochi – the first time an American singles luger had ever won a medal.

Now she’s a two-time world champion — and in her fourth Winter Games, Hamlin will lead the U.S. team into the Olympic Park in Pyeongchang Friday night.

While she’s comfortable streaking down the track at 90 miles an hour, Hamlin says she’s more worried about Friday’s ceremony.

“I slide. That’s what I do,” Hamlin told the media in Pyeongchang after being selected. “Put me at the top of the track, that’s my happy place. Walking out in front of a lot of people and even more watching from home, hoping to not trip over my own feet or drop the flag is going to be way more nerve-wracking.”

A native of Remsen, New York, she says she’s retiring after these games.

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