The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games has officially kicked off in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang.
Welcoming athletes, spectators, and officials to the ceremony was the ringing of bells titled ”Peace in Motion” in the 35,000 capacity stadium at the Pyeongchang Olympic village.
Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was spotted shaking hands with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea during the opening ceremony. She has earlier flown into the country through Incheon airport on Friday.
Athletes from both North and South Koreas will march together under a ”unification flag” in an unorthodox display of unity between the two countries.
A total of 92 countries with an estimated 2952 athletes will be competing for Olympic medals in 102 sporting events across 15 different disciplines for the next 17 days.
Sporting events such as curling and ski jumping started earlier on Thursday. Residents around the city of Pyeongchang have signaled their excitement for hosting the Winter Olympic games.
South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympics for the first time but it’s the second time for which the country is organizing an Olympic event after the Seoul Summer Olympics of 1988.
There has been a rapprochement between North and South Korea in the buildup of Games in recent weeks. The two neighbours resumed cross-border discussions in January.
When the North announced it will be sending athletes and performers to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, it was welcome as a major diplomatic accomplishment.
Meanwhile, North Korea stage an impromptu military parade to mark its 70th anniversary of the nation’s armed forces in the capital Pyongyang on Thursday.
The Winter Olympic Games is estimated to cost some US$12.5 billion, will run from February 9 through 25.
BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst