January 30, 2018 12:29
The Olympic flame will be lit on Feb. 9 signaling the start of 15 days of exciting sports drama in Pyeongchang.
Twenty-six world leaders and other high-ranking dignitaries from 21 countries are set to visit Korea during the Winter Olympics, Cheong Wa Dae said Monday.
The Olympics are fast losing their luster around the world. Even four years ago, 50 world leaders attended the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But now many citizens are campaigning against their own governments' attempts to saddle them with the games.
Still, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is coming, and Cheong Wa Dae said Monday it is still in talks with China over whether President Xi Jinping will attend the closing ceremony.
Nam Gwan-pyo at the presidential National Security Office said, "The Olympics will be an occasion for the first multilateral diplomatic summit taking place in Korea since the launch of the Moon Jae-in administration. The leaders of 16 countries will take part in the opening ceremony."
Other dignitaries include U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Chinese politburo member Han Zheng, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Slovenian President Borut Pahor and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.
Moon will host a reception for them on opening day and meet individually with 14 dignitaries.
French President Emmanuel Macron was expected to attend but is not on the final list.
The official Russian team has been barred from this year's Winter Olympics over a doping scandal, so no very senior figure from Russia is expected.
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