The Olympics is a time for countries to come together to demonstrate the athletic capabilities of their citizens and promote international unity. More than that, the opening ceremonies provides a connection for all corners of the world to come together and offer the host country the chance to showcase themselves on the international stage.
The 23rd Olympic Winter Games are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This is being recognized as one of the coldest Winter Olympics in recent years.
Korean actor-producer, Song Seung-whan was the creative director behind the opening ceremony. More than 1200 performers participated and the performance took over two years to produce. The performance opened up with the lights of the South Korean flag being displayed to set the stage.
Five school children led viewers through a journey of the origins of Korea. Ice spread across the floor as the children followed a white tiger through the mountains. Not only was Korean history represented, but history of the Asian area was showcased. These children are shown traveling through the past, present, and future. Ideas of man and nature, crucial to the cultural identity of the country, dominated the show. Ancient tradition were demonstrated through the use of modern technology, creatively combining the elements to better represent the identity of South Korea today.
As the ceremony continued, performers displayed themes of yingyang as they played double sided drums and danced in circle patterns as lights shown down to further the idea of contrast. A children’s choir performed the Korean national anthem, signifying the start of the games.
The parade of nations opened with Greece leading the following 90 nations. Each country circled the entire floor of the arena making their debut in Pyeongchang.
One highly anticipated aspect of the opening ceremony was the united Korean delegations. In January of 2018, North Korea announced they would be participating in the Winter Olympics. Both South Korea and North Korea marched in under the same flag, the Korean flag, during the parade of nations. This is not the first time both the North Korean and South Korean delegations have marched together but it was a major symbol of unity considering the recent actions of North Korea and where the Winter Olympics are being held. They even sent a unified women’s hockey team to compete with one another.
Along with their participation, North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, sent his sister, Kim Yo Jong, to Pyeongchang sending a strong message to the rest of the world with her presence.
America sent their own message by sending Vice President, Mike Pence, to lead the American delegation. Women’s luge competitor, Erin Hamlin, was the flag bearer for the United States, leading the largest and most diverse delegation present at the games. There are more women present on the team than any United States Olympic team in the past.
Due to the 2014 Russian doping scandal in Sochi, Russia was barred from these Winter Olympics. A few specific Russian athletes were invited and allowed to compete as they were not a part of the doping scandal. These athletes have been forced to compete under a new title, the “Olympic Athletes of Russia”. Along with this, the athletes were not able to walk in under the Russian flag, the Olympic flag was used, and in the instance that a Russian athlete wins a gold medal, the Olympic anthem will be used as opposed to Russia’s national anthem.
However, the opening ceremony was not the first Olympic event to occur. Both curling and figure skating began nearly a day before the opening ceremony took place.
Lauren Johnston // Backpage Editor and Business Manager