[PyeongChang 2018] Top organizer hoping for big Korean turnout at opening ceremony

By Yonhap
  • Published : Feb 1, 2018 - 11:46
  • Updated : Feb 1, 2018 - 11:51

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- The top organizer of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics said this week that he is hoping for a big turnout of athletes for the joint Korean march at the game's opening ceremony.

The divided countries reached a landmark agreement last month to march in together at the Feb. 9 opening ceremony. PyeongChang 2018 is the first Winter Olympics in South Korea, and this will be North Korea's first appearance at an Olympic Games held south of the border after it boycotted the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee approved the joint march on Jan. 20 and said the two delegations will enter PyeongChang Olympic Stadium behind the Korean Unification Flag, an image of a blue Korean Peninsula against a white background.

In this Feb. 10, 2006, file photo, Korea flag-bearer`s Bora Lee and Jong-In Lee, carrying a unification flag lead their teams into the stadium during the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy. (AP)

The IOC also said two athletes, one from each of the Koreas, will be the flag-bearers. One will be male and one will be female, though it isn't yet clear which Korea will be represented by which gender.

Both Koreas will have their largest Winter Olympics delegations ever: the South with 219 athletes and officials and the North with 46 athletes and officials.

Lee Hee-beom, president of PyeongChang's organizing committee, said he's looking forward to a large ceremony for both.

"I think almost all of the North Korean representatives will be there," Lee told Yonhap News Agency during Wednesday's opening ceremony for the Main Press Centre in PyeongChang.

"As for the South Korean delegation, about 70 percent of the team will be there, mostly athletes who don't have to compete the following day," Lee added.

This will be the 10th joint march for the Koreas at an international sporting event. At the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, 300 athletes and officials from each of the Koreas, 600 total, marched in together.

The order in which the participating nations enter the opening ceremony is determined by the alphabet of the host nation. The host country is always the last to march in.

PyeongChang 2018 will be the largest Winter Games in history with 92 nations sending about 2,900 athletes. (Yonhap)