The hosting nation, Republic of Korea, marched alongside their neighbors from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea under the Korean unification flag with goodwill gesture of friendship, peace, hope and togetherness as the 23rd Olympic Winter Games was launched on the 9th February 2018 to create history. Cheerful capacity filled the Pyeongchang Olympic stadium witnessing the magnificent inauguration and millions of Television viewers around the world went ecstatic about the upcoming events for 16 dramatic days in action.
Exclusively structured for these Games, the geometric patterns – circles, squares and triangles are symbolic representations of heaven, earth and mankind respectively. The architectural splendor exhibits the combination of Korean philosophies converging harmony, values and culture. Notable eagerness and anticipation was obvious at the Olympic Stadium around the inauguration ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games at Pyeongchang 2018.
The inaugural ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics was performed on the ice and with the ancient ‘Bell of Peace’, which carried the core message of peace and was intended to magically calm and nation and bring harmony on the lands of Korea. Apart from this centerpiece depiction, colorful and bright outburst of fireworks embellished the night sky at Pyeongchang.
Elements of Peace
Five Korean Children dressed up to represent five elements of nature, Fire, Water, Metal, Wood and the Earth that constitutes the universe, were the most adorable with their performance that left the audience spellbound. The depiction of journey of life through time, seeking peace and harmony added more meaning to the performance.
The careful choice of the five children’s costumes symbolized five natural elements and also the five Olympic rings. The show that began in an igloo kind of a structure, dramatically took to life connecting to the important inventions of the Koreans such as the turtle ship. The unique interesting creatures such as the Black tortoise, Vermillion Bird, The Blue Dragon, the White Tiger portrayed the host nations culture and knowledge.
The conclusion of the ‘White Tiger’ performance marked the conclusion of the first phase of the ceremony and the spectacular scene underwent a transformation creating the enchanting Baekdudaegan Mountain Range on the stage which is the backbone of the Korean Peninsula. With the constellation of stars appearance over the stadium, it was time to officially introduce the dignitaries. The President of the host nation, Moon Jae in and the President of the IOC, Thomas Bach were cheered and applauded as they addressed the event.
As a swarm of neon’s illuminated the stadium, troupes of Django Drummers decked in white, ensemble the audience by beating the drums to a pulsating rhythm. The reverberation soon merged to form the design of the national flag of the Republic of Korea, with Yin and Yang at its heart (red and white colors).
The host nation’s flag was held during the parade by their eight main sports stars. Kang Kwang-bae – Pioneer of Korean Bobsleigh and the current coach for the same; Luge and Skeleton teams; Three short track gold winner Jin Sun Yu; Pak Se ri, a golfer and coach for Rio national team, Li sun Yi; the Baseball star; Hwang Young cho, the marathon gold winner at 1992 Barcelona; Seo Hyang Soon; gold medalist in Archery at LosAngels 1984; Lim O Kyeong, two time Olympic Hand ball champion; and Ha Hyung Joo, winner of Judo gold medal at LosAngels – 1984.
Parading to the traditional guard of honor, the flag bearers made way for the Rainbow Children’s Choir constituting children from multiple ethnicity of the host country. Then the National Anthem was performed.
Centre stage event
The national anthem made way for the Athletes’ Parade, the most sought after proud moment for the participants and the representing nation. The flags of each of the National Olympic Committees were glimmering on the icy background. Maintaining the honored tradition, the first to parade was the Greek NOC delegation along with their contingent of two cross-country and two Alpine skiers. Ghana was next in the line. In the contingent was Akwasi Frimong, the only representative to compete second time ever in winter Olympics in the Skeleton. Then the Nigerian contingent had women’s Bobsleigh team, representing Africa for the first time ever at the Olympics. Men from Jamaica had won the hearts 30 years ago in Bobsleigh event but the women made an entry only now, creating history.
Many were regular participants in ‘traditional’ Winter Sports, some countries took toddler steps in to the Games. Europe, Asia and North America were joined by Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Ecuador, Kosovo, Madagascar, Malaysia, Togo, Tonga were represented by just one participant. Singapore and Eritrea out of the 6 countries made first time entry in to the Opening Ceremony at the Winter Olympic Games. The Pyeongchang 2018 is different and diverse considering challenges and inspirations that the organizers have put up with and pushed themselves to make it happen.
The last contingent to parade is usually the host nation and it’s an honor and protocol to march the National Olympic Committee. Here, breaking the tradition and protocol, the Republic of Korea delegates were joined by the delegates from Democratic Republic of Korea. This powerfully impacted and energized the Olympic spirits stepping towards harmony and peace. Under the unification Flag, the contingent was led by dual flag bearers, Ice Hockey player Huang Jun Gun from DPRK and Juang Yung Jon, Bobsleigh athlete.
Giving no scope to anticipate, the stadium was flooded with light too quickly and the fireworks and the music that charged the stadium’s aura completely. 77 years young Kim Nam ji and the five children took the audience on a journey through the nation’s four seasons with the backdrop of Korean traditional ‘Jeongseon Airirang’. The transformation of these young children in to adults envisioned through times’ travel was marvelous that promised variety of healthy needed changes in the ever changing world.
‘Hope’ to the future
Republic of Korea has contributed highly to the innovations in science and technology. Now the hunger to strengthen, practice and build peaceful world was systematically choreographed and depicted during the inaugural ceremony.
The host nations intentions at the core are harmony, peace and culture, the inaugural ceremony truly established themes. The President and CEO of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee Olympic Games, Lee Hee Beom and the IOC President Thomas Bach rendered meaningful strong messages with the common themes of bringing unification. They clearly called to resolve conflicts, bring down barriers and promote mutual respect.
Peace, Friendship and Culture
In the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games Presidential speech, it was an overwhelming expression by the President when he quoted that the cold war barrier was broken and harmony restored between the East and the West 30 years ago. He hoped that this Winter Olympic games would restore peace once again over Korea.
Hailing the theme of peace, the IOC President took up the baton to greet the ‘first Olympic Games on snow and ice in the Republic of Korea.’ His inspirational message reminded them to strictly follow fairness in the game exhibiting sportsman’s spirit. He said ‘You will inspire us all to live together in peace and harmony despite all our differences. You will inspire us by competing for the highest honor in the Olympic spirit of excellence, respect and fair play’.
He continued emphasizing on ‘You can only really enjoy your Olympic performance if you respect the rules and stay clean. Only then will your lifelong memories be the memories of a true and worthy Olympian’.
He said that he believed and witnessed the unique power of sports to unite people during the opening ceremony.
Quoting the example of the two teams parading against the protocol, he said ‘A great example of this unifying power is the joint march here tonight of the two teams from the National Olympic Committees of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We thank you’.
He thanked the athletes, spectators in the stadium and the Olympic fans all around the world and said that he was touched by the wonderful gesture. He invited all to join and support in this act of getting together for peace, culture and hope.
‘United in our diversity, we are stronger than all forces that want to divide us’. The IOC had sent this powerful message of hope to the world two years ago in Rio de Janeiro with the first Refugee Olympic team. Remembering that, today in Pyeongchang, when the contingents from ROK and DPRK march side by side, they too send a message to retain peace.
The President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in was called upon to declare the 23rd Winter Olympics Games, Pyeongchang, officially open. This declaration culminated with the roaring applauds and cheers from the spectators and the exploding fireworks alike.
Cauldron, the Olympic Light!
The theme of togetherness, hope, peace, culture was always the underlining factor in music, speech or presentation. Throughout the inauguration ceremony, 4 legendary Korean musicians – Ha Hyun Woo, Lee Eun mi, Ha Hyun woo and Ji-yeong, created magical melody performing to the iconic anthem of John Lennon themed on peace. Musicians from all around the world joined them via a link that was live globally. The performers formed a bright dove of peace around the singers that was spectacular. The Olympic flag was borne by four generations of Korean athletes. As it made an entry in to the stadium, the Olympic oath was sworn.
Quickly, the acclaimed Korean figure skating idol Yuna Kim skated around the freshly designed Olympic torch. The Olympic flame bearers Jong Su Hyon (PRK) and Park Jong ah (KOR) two players from the unified Korean women’s ice hockey team proceeded to light the torch.
The torch was lit by the two 2010 Olympic champions at Pyeongchang 2018 symbolically declaring the grand opening of the Winter Olympics Games 2018.