The Winter Games are here, kicking off with an opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium that introduced 2,900 athletes from 92 countries in competition for 102 medals over the span of two weeks.
Starting at 8 p.m. in South Korea (6 a.m. ET this morning), the spectacle proceeded with artistic segments and troupes of dancers, championing the themes of hope, peace and convergence. The delegations of Ghana, Eritrea and Nigeria entered first for the parade of nations, with the countries’ names introduced in alphabetical order based on the Korean language.
As the flag-bearer, four-time Olympian and luge veteran Erin Hamlin led the 244-person U.S. Olympic team (the largest athlete delegation in Winter Olympics history), with each wearing Ralph Lauren mountaineering boots.
Tongan representative Pita Taufatofua, who went viral after leading his delegation into the 2016 Rio Olympics shiny and shirtless, braved the cold by going bare-chested yet again — this time pairing his traditional ta’ovala with minimalist flip-flops.
Toward the end, host nation South Korea and neighboring country North Korea appeared together under the Korean unification flag, which was carried by South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong and North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung-gum.
“All the athletes around me, all the spectators here in the stadium, and all Olympic fans watching around the world: We are all touched by this wonderful gesture,” said International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. “We all join and support you in your message of peace. United in our diversity, we are stronger than all the forces that want to divide us.”
South Korean figure skating champion Yuna Kim had the honor of lighting the Olympic torch, officially commencing the games. Among the evening’s noteworthy guests were U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Kim Yo-jong, younger sister to North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, who was absent at the games along with President Donald Trump. Other foreign dignitaries included French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
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