With two of its medal hopefuls main the way in which, the South Korean delegation to the Beijing Winter Olympics joined Friday’s opening ceremony because the 73rd nation within the parade of 91 collaborating nations.
Quick monitor pace skaters Kwak Yoon-gy and Kim A-lang had been the co-flag bearers for South Korea, which had 11 athletes and 28 officers available on the Nationwide Stadium to rejoice the beginning of the 2022 Winter Video games.
South Korea could have 65 athletes competing in six out of seven sports activities general. These staying in Zhangjiakou, which is able to host occasions akin to snowboard and biathlon some 180 kilometers northwest of Beijing, skipped the ceremony, citing journey points and doable disruption to their preparation.
South Korean athletes and officers enter the Nationwide Stadium in Beijing through the opening ceremony for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 4, 2022. (Yonhap)
Apart from the 2 flag bearers, there have been three lugers, 5 bobsledders and one determine skater on the ceremony for South Korea. All ice occasions might be held in Beijing correct, whereas sliding occasions might be contested within the northwestern district of Yanqing. Issues over doable COVID-19 an infection additionally contributed to small delegations throughout the board.
Kwak, 32, might be competing in his third and closing Olympics. The 5,000m males’s relay silver medalist from 2010 might be chasing one other relay medal, as he didn’t qualify for particular person races.
Kim, 26, can also be skating in her third Winter Video games. She helped South Korea to consecutive 3,000m relay gold medals in 2014 and 2018.
South Korea is focusing on one or two gold medals in Beijing, and can pin its hope on quick monitor. South Korea has been essentially the most profitable nation in Olympic quick monitor historical past, with 24 gold medals and 48 medals general thus far.
After he was chosen as a flag bearer, Kwak, together with his hair dyed vivid pink, puzzled aloud to the media whether or not he ought to placed on a cap on the ceremony. Kwak was frightened that he would possibly rub some individuals within the famously conservative and stiff Korean sports activities neighborhood the flawed manner and that he ought to maybe seem extra standard for the event.
Kwak finally determined to indicate off his true colours. Then in a cheeky contact, Kwak and Kim hopped up and down in lockstep close to the top of their parade.
Beijing 2022 is the second Olympics to happen through the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Summer time Video games final July had no spectators within the stands, with a restricted variety of officers and journalists current. All athletes and officers on the bottom wore masks and had been requested to take care of secure distance from each other.
Masks remained necessary in Beijing, however gates had been open ever so barely to a couple invited followers this time. Nonetheless, the opening ceremony was decidedly understated with simply 3,000 performers, in comparison with 15,000 individuals performing within the lavish occasion that kicked off the 2008 Summer time Olympics on the identical Nationwide Stadium.
Greece, the birthplace of the fashionable Olympics, led off the parade. The host nation China was the final, with Italy, the host of the subsequent Winter Video games in 2026, marching in proper in entrance of China.