Sports

Biggest Ever Winter Olympics Open in Pyeongchang

By Kang Ho-chul | February 09, 2018 13:35

The Olympic torch will light up the night sky over the Olympic Stadium in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province on Friday after a 100-day relay across the country.

Beginning with the opening ceremony at 8 p.m., the Winter Olympics will attract millions of viewers from all over the world until Feb. 25. It will be the biggest Winter Olympics ever with a total of 2,925 athletes from 92 countries competing for a record 102 gold medals.

Pyeongchang has waited for 20 years to realize its ambition of hosting the Olympics, making its first bid in 1999, It suffered two defeats, losing the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver, Canada and the 2014 games to Sochi, Russia. In both bids, Korea came first in the first round of voting but was defeated by an underdog in the second round at the International Olympic Committee.

It finally won the bid at the IOC Assembly in Durban, South Africa in the early morning of July 7, 2011, beating Munich, Germany and Annecy, France.

Korea's Choi Seo-u performs at the preliminaries of men’s normal hill individual ski jumping at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Thursday. He ranked 39th out of 57 and made it to the final for the top 50.

The 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland were the first Korea participated in as a sovereign country, fielding only three athletes, including speed skater Lee Hyo-chang.

Seventy years on, Korea is fielding 145 athletes with the goal of finishing fifth or better in the medals count. Korea becomes only the fifth country in the world to have hosted all of the big four sports events -- the Summer and Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, and the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships.

A total of 2,412 turbulent days have passed since the country won the bid. The chairman of the organizing committee was replaced twice, and there were worries that the facilities might not be finished on time. But now all looks set to go and the mountain city is welcoming guests from around the world.

It is still a secret who will light the Olympic cauldron. Figure skater Kim Yu-na, a gold medalist at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the silver medalist in Sochi, is regarded as the likeliest candidate.
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