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Opening ceremony launches Winter Olympics in S. Korea

IANS  |  PyeongChang 

The ushered in the 23rd on Friday with a glittering that saw athletes from both South and North Korea, two countries who have technically been at war for 65 years, marching together under a unified Korean flag showing a blue, borderless country. A shirtless Tongan flag-bearer in freezing temperature and 169 Russian athletes set to compete as neutrals were the other highlights.

Among the 25,000 spectators who witnessed the colourful, light-filled event were Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the honorary of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam, as well as South Korean Moon Jae-in, Vice of the Mike Pence and Japanese Shinzo Abe, reports Efe news agency.

The United States, and have been at the forefront of international efforts to rein in North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, which saw carry out a series of missile tests last year.

on Thursday echoed the sentiments of president Thomas Bach, who last month said the Games could send "the message of peace" after the IOC had approved the two Koreas' request to march jointly under the same flag for the first time since in 2006.

"If there is a true symbol of peace in the world, that is the Olympic spirit," Guterres said.

The ceremony was also notable for the absence of an official Russian delegation after and the were banned from attending the Games over the doping scandal which rocked the last Winter Olympics, held in 2014 in Sochi,

The Russian athletes were invited by the to compete under the Olympic flag.

of Tonga, who had attended the with his bare torso slathered in coconut oil, astonished crowds as he repeated his entry despite the freezing conditions which were also stoically borne by the delegation from Bermuda, who wore the island's eponymous shorts.

The PyeongChang run from February 9-25, although several sporting events, including mixed doubles' curling, qualifying heats for the moguls in freestyle skiing, and the team figure skating competition, have already begun.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 19:12 IST