Published On: Fri, Feb 9th, 2018

Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony: Pyeongchang Welcomes The World

Fireworks go off at the start of the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics started 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 was 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.

Dancers perform “The Land of Peace.” The themes of the ceremony are harmony and convergence, and passion and peace. Jamie Squire/Getty Images hide caption

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The ceremony began 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 revolved 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.

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony. Jamie Squire/Getty Images hide caption

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Introductions

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

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach (left) and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (center) wave during the opening ceremony. Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images

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 entered alongside their counterparts from North Korea, walking beneath a flag of unity, bearing the shape of the Korean Peninsula.

By tradition, Greece, the home of the original Olympics, enters first. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images hide caption

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Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The other 89 nations entered 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 entered after all the countries whose names begin with “M” — so, after Malta and Mongolia and before Bermuda and Belgium. The Americans were 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 led the U.S. team into the Olympic Park in Pyeongchang Friday night.

Flag bearer Erin Hamlin of the United States leads the team in the Parade of Athletes. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images hide caption

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

While she’s comfortable streaking down the track at 90 miles an hour, Hamlin earlier said she was 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.

News : NPR