Opening ceremony marks the start of Games




USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 Winter Olympics are officially kicking off Friday morning (here in the U.S.) with the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea. 

Team USA will be led into the ceremony by Erin Hamlin, who was selected as the flag bearer. That process didn’t sit well with speed skater Shani Davis, who tweeted out his displeasure. Now, he’s not expected to march with the team

Today’s opening ceremony is streaming live on nbcolympics.com, but stick with us here as we’ll quickly update with all the hot moments from a frigid opening ceremony. Here we go…

Shirtless Tonga man returns!

Lookalikes make an appearance

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un weren’t in Pyeongchang for the opening ceremony – but their lookalikes were.

Impersonators of the two leaders caused quite a stir, walking up through the lower section of the crowd near the media seating shortly after the American team finished its walk in the Parade of Nations.


 

Party like it’s 2012

Spotted rocking out to Gangnam Style was snowboarder Shaun White, who brought up the rear of the United States delegation with his snowboard teammates. Cross-country skier Jessie Diggins, who choreographs the team’s dance videos, was dancing along around the stadium.

Lights on

Greece kicks things off

The first country to march in the Parade of Nations is Greece, which is the case at every Olympics as the birthplace of the modern Games. After Greece, the procession goes in alphabetical order, according to the host country’s language – in this case, Korean. Ghana followed after Greece.

No flag (or bearer) for Russia

Russia doesn’t get its own flag in the Pyeongchang Olympics, and it won’t have an athlete carry the Olympic flag in the opening ceremony. In a list of flag bearers for the 91 countries in the Parade of Nations, the flag bearer for the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” was listed as a volunteer from the Pyeongchang organizing committee. Russians who have been invited here by the International Olympic Committee are competing with the OAR designation, which strips them of the Russian colors and flag and instead has them march under the Olympic flag.

– Rachel Axon

It’s chilly – but stadium is filling up

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – The Pyeongchang Olympics opened Friday night living up to their winter billing.

In a chilly Olympic Stadium, spectators huddled under heat lamps along the concourse as they waited for the ceremony to begin.

Pyeongchang organizers made every attempt to keep fans warm in the open-air venue, where temperatures were in the low 30s with slight winds. Each seat came with a package that included a blanket, hand warmers, hat and poncho.

In an effort to keep people warm, the emcees and dancers around the stadium tried to get spectators to dance to K-pop.

With about an hour to go until the ceremony, the stadium was about 75% full as a unified Korean group of taekwondo athletes performed a demonstration. On an upper level, a red-clad North Korean cheer squad shouted in unison as the athletes sent shattered planks of wood flying on the stadium floor.

– Rachel Axon

The 5 best opening ceremonies

USA TODAY Sports’ Christine Brennan is no stranger to the Olympics. This will be her 18th Olympics opening ceremony. So which was the best? She breaks down her top five

Organizers try to help fans stay warm

The opening ceremony is going to be cold. Frigid, in fact. So organizers for the event are hooking up fans with a blanket, poncho, seat cushion and more as they enter the stadium.

Who’s going to carry the flag for the unified Korea team?

Representatives from both countries naturally. South Korean male bobsledder Won Yunjong and women’s hockey player Hwang Chung-gum were tapped for the honor, according to the IOC. The two will carry the Korean Unification Flag, which features an image of a blue Korean Peninsula against a white background.

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