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2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea kicks off with colourful Opening Ceremony

Saturday - 10/02/2018 05:44
THE Winter Olympics have started and the Tongan flag bearer sent social media wild by going shirtless again despite the cold weather.

THE 2018 Winter Olympics have officially kicked off with the opening ceremony now underway.

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga’s oiled-up flag bearer from the Rio Games, made a return, brushing aside the frosty temperatures to again go shirtless - much to the delight of the crowd and social media.

Tonga's flagbearer Pita Taufatofua at Rio. Picture: AFP
Tonga's flagbearer Pita Taufatofua at Rio. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

 

 
Pita Taufatofua is back ... and shirtless ... for the Winter Olympics. Picture: AP
Pita Taufatofua is back ... and shirtless ... for the Winter Olympics. Picture: APSource:AP

After competing in Rio in taekwondo, Taufatofua will try his luck in cross-country skiing this time around.

He is the sole Tongan in South Korea and the first of his nation to compete at Winter and Summer Games.

Pita Taufatofua carries the flag of Tonga during the opening ceremony. Picture: AP
Pita Taufatofua carries the flag of Tonga during the opening ceremony. Picture: APSource:AP

Taufatofua was born in Australia but raised in Tonga.

He currently lives in Brisbane.

Pita Taufatofua of Tonga became a viral hit after the Rio Games. Picture: Getty
Pita Taufatofua of Tonga became a viral hit after the Rio Games. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

Earlier in the week he played down suggestions that he would be shirtless.

“I want to still be alive for my race. It’s going to be freezing, so I will be keeping nice and warm,” the 34-year-old said.

However, he didn’t disappoint his fans, waving the Tongan flag semi-clothed.



HISTORIC HANDSHAKE OPENS GAMES

As South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife greeted VIPs in their dignitary box to watch the opening ceremony, they turned to shake hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, who arrived earlier in the day on an unprecedented visit to the South by a member of the North’s ruling Kim family.

All broke out in broad smiles.

North Korea's Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo Jong (C) shakes hand with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium. Picture: AFP
North Korea's Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo Jong (C) shakes hand with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was at the opening ceremony with North Korea’s nominal head of state, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam.

They are part of an extraordinary diplomatic push by the North aimed at using the Olympics to ease tensions with Seoul and bolster unity between the two Koreas after a year that has been marked by escalating fears of war and increasing angry rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front R) sits beside US Vice President Mike Pence (front 2nd R) and Pence's wife Karen with North Korea's Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong (back R). Picture: AFP
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front R) sits beside US Vice President Mike Pence (front 2nd R) and Pence's wife Karen with North Korea's Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong (back R). Picture: AFPSource:AFP

As they shook hands, the North and South Koreans spoke briefly. It was not immediately known what they said, but all of them were smiling.

US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife were seated beside the Moons and next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife.

His office said he did not interact with the North Koreans.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un impersonators are escorted out of the ceremony during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: Getty
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un impersonators are escorted out of the ceremony during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

 

Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un impersonators were kicked out of the opening ceremony but not before making a call for peace.

“We get along personally, so I believe that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, if they talked they’d probably get along. Because in my opinion, they’re pretty much the same person,” the Kim impersonator said.

Impersonators of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Picture: Getty
Impersonators of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

 

“And Dennis Rodman has confirmed this and he’s met both of them personally,” he added, referring to the former NBA player who has met with Kim multiple times.

“So let’s start talking and stop with all the missiles and everything else,” the impersonator said. “We want peace, everybody wants peace, nobody wants war.”

SCOTTY JAMES LEADS AUSTRALIAN TEAM OUT

Snowboarder Scotty James led Australia’s team out to cheers in PyeongChang overnight.

Resplendent in their silver parkas and green trousers, the 51-member team marched into the Olympic stadium in 53rd position according to the Korean alphabet.

Australia‘s flagbearer Scotty James leads the delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium. Picture: AFP
Australia‘s flagbearer Scotty James leads the delegation as they parade during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

 

At just 23, James is a three-time Olympian and one of our strongest medal chances.

He is the reigning world champion in his event and is a frequent medallist on the World Cup and X-Games tours.

Flag bearer Scotty James of Australia and teammates enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: Getty
Flag bearer Scotty James of Australia and teammates enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

 

US SPEED SKATER BOYCOTTS CEREMONY AFTER CONTROVERSY

US‘s flagbearer Erin Hamlin leads Team USA. Picture: AFP
US‘s flagbearer Erin Hamlin leads Team USA. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Erin Hamlin led Team USA into the opening ceremony but one person who wasn’t there was five-time Olympian Shani Davis, who boycotted the ceremony.

Davis, who has won two gold medals and two silver medals, and is one of the only African Americans on the team, felt that he should have been the flag bearer.

Shani Davis of the United States. Picture: AP
Shani Davis of the United States. Picture: APSource:AP

In an angry tweet, Davis, took a shot at Hamlin, the holder of a single bronze medal.

“I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event,” Davis wrote on Twitter.

He then slammed Team USA for “dishonorably” tossing a coin to decide who would have the honor of carrying the flag.

I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018pic.twitter.com/dsmTtNkhJs

— Shani Davis (@ShaniDavis) February 8, 2018

“No problem. I can wait until 2022,” he added before using the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth2018.’

His team said he had no plans to attend the opening ceremony unless he was the flag bearer, instead deciding to focus on his race.

Erin Hamlin, left, and Shani Davis. Picture: AP
Erin Hamlin, left, and Shani Davis. Picture: APSource:AP

SOUTH KOREAN GOLD MEDALIST LIGHTS CAULDRON

South Korean figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim has ignited the Olympic cauldron for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Kim won a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a silver at the 2014 Sochi Games before retiring from competition.

South Korean Olympic figure skating champion Yuna Kim lights the Olympic cauldron. Picture: AP
South Korean Olympic figure skating champion Yuna Kim lights the Olympic cauldron. Picture: APSource:AP

She remains perhaps the country’s most popular sports personality and has worked as a goodwill ambassador to promote the Pyeongchang Games.

South Korean Olympic figure skating champion Yuna Kim lights the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Picture: AP
South Korean Olympic figure skating champion Yuna Kim lights the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Picture: APSource:AP

A North Korean and South Korean from the countries’ joint hockey team also participated in the ceremony, handing off to Kim.

Unified Korea's flagbearers (North Korea's ice hockey player) Hwang Chung Gum (L) and (South Korea's bobsledder) Won Yun-jong (R) lead the Unified Korea's delegation. Picture: AFP
Unified Korea's flagbearers (North Korea's ice hockey player) Hwang Chung Gum (L) and (South Korea's bobsledder) Won Yun-jong (R) lead the Unified Korea's delegation. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The opening ceremony kicked off what will be the biggest Winter Olympic Games to date with more than 2900 athletes from 92 countries competing.

The athletes started marching in the Opening Ceremony - with Greece leading the way.

Flag bearer Sophia Ralli of Greece leads the team during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: Getty
Flag bearer Sophia Ralli of Greece leads the team during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

The show kicked off with a fireworks display surrounding the stadium, finishing with the word “Welcome” lighting up the night sky.

The theme of the ceremony was “peace” and the story followed the adventures of five children from Gangwon province (the region where the Olympics is being held).

Keaton McCargo and Jaelin Kauf of the United States march during the Opening Ceremony. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Keaton McCargo and Jaelin Kauf of the United States march during the Opening Ceremony. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The children watched as a turtle ship made of gold life floated over their heads before a golden tiger appeared.

A human-operated puppet tiger entered the stage, followed by the five kids.

The white tiger is a “protector of peace”.

The White Tiger & Five Kids enter the stage. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The White Tiger & Five Kids enter the stage. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
 
Colourful fireworks surround the stadium. Picture:(Franck Fife/Pool Photo via AP
Colourful fireworks surround the stadium. Picture:(Franck Fife/Pool Photo via APSource:AP

Hundreds of female dancers dressed in red and white took to the stage with drums, some weaving intricate patters as they go, while others sat in a circle in the centre.

They finished in the shape of the South Korean flag.

Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

 

Dancers with drums create beautiful formations during the Opening Ceremony. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Dancers with drums create beautiful formations during the Opening Ceremony. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

After the marching drummers left the stadium, eight former South Korean athletes entered carrying their national flag.

A choir then sang the national anthem as the flag is raised.

The South Korean flag is carried into the stadium by former athletes. Picture: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The South Korean flag is carried into the stadium by former athletes. Picture: Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
 
Lights fill the stadium at the beginning of the Opening Ceremony. Picture: AFP/ Jonathan Nackstrand
Lights fill the stadium at the beginning of the Opening Ceremony. Picture: AFP/ Jonathan NackstrandSource:AFP

THE STADIUM

Tonight was one of the first — and last — time the stadium will be used.

The five-sided 35,000-seat stadium cost about $100 million to build, but its primary use is for only four events: The opening and closing ceremonies for both the Olympics and Paralympics. Then it will be torn down and the site will be rebuilt with a museum and leisure facilities.

People arrive at the Olympic Stadium ahead of the opening ceremony. Picture: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
People arrive at the Olympic Stadium ahead of the opening ceremony. Picture: AP Photo/Kirsty WigglesworthSource:AP

Members of the North Korean delegation sat in seats in the upper deck, cheering for the North Korean taekwondo team performing in the centre of the stadium.

North and South Korea marched in together under a united flag.

Martial arts artists perform prior to the opening ceremony. Picture: AFP/Javier Soriano
Martial arts artists perform prior to the opening ceremony. Picture: AFP/Javier SorianoSource:AFP
 
Members of the North Korean delegation hold flags of the combined Koreas. Picture: AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Members of the North Korean delegation hold flags of the combined Koreas. Picture: AP Photo/Matthias SchraderSource:AP

They were the last team to enter the stadium.

The entire PyeongChang Olympics could cost South Korea up to 14 trillion won ($12.9 billion).

South Korea is hosting the games for the first time since 1988, when Seoul was the home of the summer games.

Originally published as He’s back, oiled up and shirtless

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