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A-Z: A Message of peace and unity at PyeongChang 2018 Opening Ceremony

Kim Yo Jong, left, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. (Photo: Getty Images)
by Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam, AIPS Young Reporter, Nigeria

PYEONGCHANG, February 9, 2018 - The opening ceremony was a sophisticated showcase of history and culture in all of its grandeur at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on a freezing Friday night to signal the commencement of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.

Here is the A-Z of the PyeongChang 2018 opening ceremony that preached a message of peace through glamorous performances.

AFRICA paraded its biggest representation at the Winter Olympic Games since South Africa became the first country from the continent to participate back in 1960. Prior to Pyeongchang 2018, only eleven African countries had at one time or the other featured in the Games but Nigeria and Eritrea have now joined the fray to increase the number to fifteen. In spite of being a continent that barely has anything to do with ice and snow, Africa has never missed a Winter Olympic Games since 1984 and this time, there are more African countries (8) representing the East, West, North and South.

BARE-chested Pita Taufatofua was Tonga's flag-bearer. After becoming famous at the Rio Olympics for walking out in the same manner, the Tongan, who made a switch from Taekwondo to Cross-country skiing, defied the freezing temperatures as he emerged with just traditional Tongan mat wrapped around his waist.

CLEAN was a key word in the speech of the International Olympic President Thomas Bach. He urged the athletes to "stay clean". Doping continues to roar its ugly head in sports, but Bach has charged the athletes at Pyeongchang 2018 to inspire the world with their performances. Bach added: "You can only really enjoy your Olympic performance if you respect the rules, and stay clean."

DOVE is a sign of peace and an inflatable one was released into the air while a Korean quartet led by Jeon In-kwon sang John Lennon's "Imagine". Back in 1988, when Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics, they also released a flock of doves but they died in the flames that emanated from the Olympic cauldron. It is also noteworthy that 1218 DRONES were used for the formation of the Olympic ring that lit the sky.

ERITREA is one of six nations making their Winter Olympics debut in Pyeongchang. The others are Ecuador, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.

(a) FUTURE dominated by information and communications technology (ICT) was highlighted during the show as a means of actualizing peace. As stated in the programme of the opening ceremony, “we see a world where people, things, time and space are all interconnected.”

GANGNANG style was one of the songs that blared through the speakers during the parade of nations and those beats attracted loud cheers from spectators, especially as it was a production by South Korean musician, PSY. The song’s video became the first to breach the one billion barrier on Youtube.

(the) HANDSHAKE between the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, - Kim Yo Jong, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the opening ceremony was the image that circled the globe. Dubbed the 'handshake of peace' it is said to have been accompanied with a request for further dialogue.

HEAT kits were distributed at the stadium to help spectators stay warm in the freezing conditions of the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. The Pyeongchang branded white bag contained, a bonnet, a raincoat and a hot pack set for the hands and feet.

IMPERSONATORS! There was a bit of a distraction from the stands when lookalikes of the North Korean President Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump made an unceremonial appearance. They caused commotion before they were shown the way out by security guards. Kim’s lookalike said: “We wanted to surprise everyone and bring world peace and then we’re being escorted out by security guards, which I think is really unfair. Doesn’t everyone want peace?”

JAPAN sent a 269-member delegation to the Olympics. It is the largest for any Winter Games held outside the country.

KOREA marching as one during the parade of nations under the Korean Unification flag was a significant moment and loud cheers welcomed them as "Korea" was announced. This is the fourth time in Olympic history that the two nations have walked together.

Chung Guam Hwang of North Korea and Yunjong Won of South Korea lead the team under the unified flag during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games

LEE Hee-beom is the President of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee. When he took to the podium at the opening ceremony he highlighted the significance of PyeongChang 2018 saying "It means two Koreas became one unified Korea through the Olympics Games."

MOON Jae-In, the South Korean president, officially declared PyeongChang 2018 open.

NINETY-Two National Olympic Committees are represented at PyeongChang 2018 and 2,952 athletes will be participating in 102 events scattered across 15 disciplines.

(The) OLYMPIC Athletes of Russia will compete under the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem will be played at any medal ceremonies they feature in. The OAR consists of 168 athletes.

PYEONGCHANG is finally hosting the Winter Olympic Games after failed bidding attempts in 2010 and 2014 when they lost to Vancouver and Sochi respectively.

(the) QUEUES at the entrance of the stadium were long and tiring (as usual) but credit must be given to the volunteers in charge of security: they were very meticulous in their duty.

REPRESENTATIVES of the United States and North Korea witnessed the ceremony as both US Vice President Mike Pence and Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader, sat near each other in the VIP section.

Yuna Kim, South Korean Figure Skater prepares to light the caulderon during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games

(The) SWEARING of oaths was done by a coach, an athlete and a judge who are all from the host nation South Korea. On behalf of all the athletes participating at the Games, they swore thus: "In the name of all the competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."

TIME was one of the themes explored at the showpiece as the spectators were made to follow five children who embarked on a time travel in their quest for peace. In the course of their journey, they encountered the River of Time… By the end of their journey, they expressed hope by holding up a candle for peace and afterwards released a dove into the skies.

USA has the largest contingent at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games with 242 athletes. They are followed closely by Canada with 226 athletes and Switzerland with 171 athletes.

VOLUNTEERS deserve all the accolades they can get for all the help they offered to ensure the success of a sporting event. At the opening ceremony they showed fancy dance moves as well. During the parade of nations, it wasn’t difficult to notice the volunteers choreographing as they formed a circle shape in the middle of the stadium.

WEATHER conditions at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium were outrageously cold but that did not stop the spectators from participating in the colourful event as they held up their lamps when need be and used their ‘soga’ to cheer the athletes during the parade of nations.

XINHUA, China's largest news agency is in PyeongChang in record numbers covering the Winter Games that will be handed over to Beijing in 15 days' time. Beijing 2022 will mark the first time a city hosts both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

YUNA Kim, the first South Korean figure skater to medal at the Olympic Games, had the honour of lighting the Olympic Cauldron. The 27-year-old skater, now retired, won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games and silver four years ago in Sochi and received the biggest cheer on the night. The torch was passed on by short track medalist Chun Lee-kyung, golfer Inbee Park, footballer Ahn Jung-hwan and two members of the joint Korean hockey team to reach Kim.

Yuna Kim, South Korean Figure Skater prepares to light the caulderon during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games

ZING! Let the Games begin!

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