SPORTS

[PyeongChang 2018] S. Korean athletes for PyeongChang 2018 hold team launch ceremony

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jan 24, 2018 - 17:23
  • Updated : Jan 24, 2018 - 17:23

Athletes competing for host South Korea at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics gathered Wednesday for their team launch ceremony.

Some 150 athletes from seven sports and 15 disciplines, including speed skating, ice hockey, curling, alpine skiing, biathlon and bobsleigh, were on hand for the occasion.

Kim Ji-yong, executive director at Kookmin University in Seoul, will be the chief delegate for South Korea, which is expected to have 218 athletes in all events.

South Korea has set out to win at least eight gold, four silver and eight bronze medals to finish in the top four in the medal race. Its best Winter Olympics performance so far came at Vancouver 2010, where it grabbed six gold medals en route to a fifth-place finish.

(Yonhap)

Bobsleigh pilot Won Yun-jong was the flag bearer during Wednesday's ceremony. But the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee hasn't decided who will carry the flag at the opening ceremony on Feb. 9.

South and North Korea will march in together behind the Korean Unification Flag, which bears the image of a blue Korean Peninsula against white background. Under an International Olympic Committee decision reached last Saturday, one athlete each from South and North Korea will serve as co-flag bearers. The IOC also said one will be male and the other will be female.

The two countries have had joint marches at nine previous international competitions. If they stick to the gender rotation, a male athlete from South Korea and a female athlete from North Korea will carry the flag this year.

KSOC President Lee Kee-heung spoke of how great athletic feats at past Olympics have always galvanized the nation and lifted people's spirits, while also doing their native country proud on global stages.

Lee added North Korea's participation will help PyeongChang realize its vision of hosting an Olympic Games for peace.

"The PyeongChang Winter Olympics will remind the world of the Olympic values of respect and understanding, and of the significance of peace on the Korean Peninsula," Lee said. "I understand the meaning of sweat and tears shed by our athletes, and they'll be under tremendous pressure because the Olympics will be at home. We'll spare no efforts to support our athletes and ensure they'll be able to maintain their top form at the Olympics."

Kim, the chef de mission, said the athletes were the "pride of the nation" for all the hard work they've put into their Olympic preparations.

"We'll try our best to accomplish our goal of winning eight gold medals and finishing in the top four and bring our people much joy," Kim said. "I believe our athletes will give their everything until the very end."

Also at the ceremony, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said the government will leave no stone unturned in its support of national team athletes. He also said the success of the 1988 Summer Olympics and 2002 FIFA World Cup held in South Korea helped elevate the national profile, and PyeongChang 2018 could be another launch pad for the country.

"The government will try to make PyeongChang 2018 the greatest Winter Olympics in history," Lee added. "The success of the Olympics will depend on the success of our athletes. And I hope people will all get behind our athletes."(Yonhap)