PyeongChang 2018 gets the party started with countdown ceremony
The build-up to PyeongChang 2018 began in earnest on 9 February with the Countdown Ceremony staged at Gangneung Hockey Arena.
Thousands of spectators turned out to witness a star-studded affair spearheaded by PyeongChang 2018 Ambassador Yuna Kim (an Olympic figure skating gold medallist) and Magnus Kim, the cross-country skier who won the Republic of Korea’s first gold medal in the sport at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
The crowds in the arena were then treated to a stunning programme of entertainment that showcased the host region’s rich cultural and sporting heritage. The evening kicked off with a group from the Gangwon Province Art Association who staged a dance performance combining Korean traditional and contemporary art. The energy levels then continued to rise with a taekwondo demonstration provided by soldiers from the First Republic of Korea Army, and an impressive flashmob by volunteers from the Gangwon Province Council for Culture.
The Olympic flag was raised before Korean Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn gave an address to all in attendance. This was followed by a speech delivered by the IOC’s Gunilla Lindberg, who is Chair of the Coordination Commission of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
“Today’s event is indeed a meaningful occasion where we can envisage the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, one of the world’s largest festivals celebrated by everyone around the world,” said Hwang Kyo-ahn. “Until the day the Olympic flame is carried to the host city of PyeongChang, let us all lend our hands in ensuring the success of the Games. I wish to ask you for even more support and interest in the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, which is just one year ahead of us.”
Lindberg added: “With only one year to go until the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, we can feel the excitement growing and the support of all of the Republic of Korea for these Games. World-class venues are being delivered on time and they will serve the development of winter sport in this region.
“Over 20 test events will be held this winter season, laying the groundwork for successful Olympic Winter Games in one year’s time. The athletes taking part in these events are already giving top marks to their experience in
PyeongChang. I am confident that come next February, the athletes, the people of Korea, and the watching world will have an outstanding Olympic Winter Games experience with PyeongChang 2018.”Much to the delight of all in the stadium, the IOC President Thomas Bach then shared a message of good luck and best wishes to PyeongChang via a short video message.
President Bach said: “The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will open up new horizons. It will connect the people and the passion of the Republic of Korea with the world. PyeongChang will transform into a hub for Asian winter sports. For the first time, the magic of Olympic sport on snow and ice will come to Korea’. He carried on: ‘As an Olympian, I know of the excitement that every athlete feels just before the competition. So I wish the athletes all the very best as they prepare to make their Olympic dreams come true in PyeongChang next year’.
I wish the athletes all the very best as they prepare to make their Olympic dreams come true in PyeongChang next year.Thomas Bach IOC President
The evening reached a dramatic climax with the countdown ceremony marking one year to go until the start of the Games. A fire performance and lights symbolising the flame of the Olympic Torch followed with the torch being officially unveiled along with the torch bearer uniforms.Wrapping up the One-Year-to-Go Countdown Ceremony, POCOG President Lee Hee-beom said: “What a fantastic celebration we had here tonight to mark one year to go. Thank you to all the performers who made tonight so special. The atmosphere was wonderful and this is a great way to show the world that we are ready to put on a great show in 12 months’ time.”