Let the games begin! The Opening Ceremony for the 23rd Winter Olympic Games — titled “Peace in Motion” — went down early Friday morning on the other side of the world in PyeongChang, South Korea.
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And it went off without a hitch. Don’t miss the Opening Ceremony’s primetime airing tonight at 8pm ET on NBC and streaming live on NBCOlympics.com.
PEACE IN MOTION
The gallantry leading up to the Parade of Nations followed the whimsical time-traveling adventure of five children surrounded by hundreds of performers and cultural iconography.
“The opening ceremony will weave together the narratives of five lovable protagonists from Gangwon province through cultural performances,” executive producer of the Opening Ceremony Yang Jung-woong said in January. “The stage will unfold like a winter fairytale depicting the children’s adventure.”
As hosts, South Korea’s athletes entered the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium last. They were joined by representatives from North Korea as all compatriots punctuated the Parade of Nations by entering together under the Unification Flag, which was carried by an athlete from each country.
A moment was captured in which South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Yo-jong was later granted the honor of officially announcing the start of the 2018 Olympic Games.
Athletes from the United States marched in the Parade of Nations with a red, white and blue fit by Ralph Lauren sporting classic sweaters and large parkas to go along with tassled nubuck gloves.
For the second Olympic Opening Ceremony in a row, Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua stole the show.
Tonga’s lone representative created quite a stir at the 2016 Rio Games when he carried the Tongan flag bare-chested and glistening in his traditional ta’ovala.
“I want to still be alive for my race. It’s going to be freezing, so I will be keeping nice and warm,” he said prior to the games.
But Taufatofua couldn’t resist, entering the arena — again bare-chested and glistening in his traditional ta’ovala — to wild cheers.
Taufatofua remarkably qualified for the Olympics as a cross country skier when he picked up the sport after returning from Rio determined to become Tonga’s first athlete to compete in both the summer and winter Olympics.
The 35,000-seat PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, which cost upwards of $75 million to construct, was finished late in 2017 and will be used for just four events. The plan is to remove the temporary installation and keep the surrounding facilities as an homage to the 2018 Games.
The arena will host the Closing Ceremony on Feb. 25 and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Paralympics soon after.
The lighting of the Olympic rings was an impressive show. Glowing snowboarders charged down a darkened competition slope before forming into rings, only revealed as the camera shifted overhead. Simultaneously, new rings seemed to materialize and hover over the mountain for a stirring shot.
LIGHTING THE CAULDRON
After its 1,254-mile journey across the country, carried by 7,500 runners to represent the 75 million people residing on the Korean peninsula, representatives from North and South Korea climbed a daunting set of lit-up stairs deliver the Olympic flame to its final destination.
As many guessed, it was Korean figure skating gold medalist and superstar Kim Yu-na who received the honor of lighting the cauldron — doing so in skates, no less. Once she lit the base of the cauldron, a ladder of fire periscoped upward to reach the top of a massive white tower visible atop one of the corners of the pentagonal stadium.
Over 20,000 fireworks were set off during the Opening Ceremony, which concluded with arresting visuals of lasers and fire.