Opening ceremony kicks off 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
The 2022 Beijing Winter Games have now officially begun, with the Olympic flame lit at the opening ceremony at National Stadium in Beijing on Friday.
As with the delayed Tokyo Summer Games just over six months ago, no spectators were allowed to attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, with just a few international dignitaries present in the stands alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Instead, the opening ceremony was designed to work well on television screens across the world.
Starting out with a performance where dancers created different flowers and shapes using LED lights, the ceremony led to a ballet performed around a large snowflake made up of smaller snowflakes bearing the names of each participating country. The torch was placed inside the giant snow flake later, replacing the traditional Olympic cauldron.
The final torchbearers who lit the Olympic flame were Chinese athletes Zhao Jiawen and Dinigeer Yilamujiang. The choice of Yilamujiang, who is of Uyghur heritage, was an assumed response from organizers to controversy over China's reported human rights violations.
At the entrance parade, flag bearers and athletes from 91 countries made the entrance with two countries making their Winter Olympics debut — Haiti and Saudi Arabia each sent their first ever winter Olympian to compete in Alpine Skiing.
The Korean delegation entered as the 73rd country in the parade. Heading the parade were short track speed skaters Kwak Yoon-gy and Kim A-lang, who were the flag bearers for Korea.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hwang Hee headed the Korean government delegation in the place of President Moon Jae-in.
Team Korea has 65 athletes competing in six out of seven sports overall. Alongside Kwak and Kim, three lugers, five bobsledders and one figure skater were able to make the ceremony as other athletes competing in snowboard and biathlon events stationed in Zhangjiakou, 180 kilometers from the capital, had to miss out on the ceremony.
Seven new events will make their Olympic debut this year; the men's and women's big air freestyle skiing, women's monobob and mixed team competitions in freestyle skiing aerials, ski jumping, snowboard cross and mixed relay in short track speed skating.
Korea is aiming for one or two gold medals at the Games, a smaller number than Korea’s PyeongChang Olympics results of five gold medals, eight silver medals and four bronze medals. The first medal attempts will come later today, with speed skating and short track races starting this evening.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]