The 23rd Winter Olympics Kicks Off in the ROK President Xi Jinping's Special Envoy Han Zheng Attends Opening Ceremony

With the slogan of "Passion. Connected", the 23rd Winter Olympics kicked off in Pyeongchang, the Republic of Korea (ROK) at 8:00 p.m. on February 9, 2018 local time. Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping and Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Han Zheng attended at invitation the opening ceremony.

At around 8:00 p.m., the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics started as the audience cheerfully chanted the countdown. Delegations from 92 countries and regions successively entered the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. Holding the national flag of China, the two-time gold medalist for Winter Olympics, short-track speed skater Zhou Yang led the Chinese delegation into the stadium, which was warmly welcomed by the audience. Hang Zheng applauded and waved the Chinese Olympic athletes with a standing ovation.

China sent a delegation of 181 members, including 82 Chinese athletes who will compete in 55 medal events of 12 disciplines over five different sports at the Olympics. Compared with Sochi Winter Olympics 4 years ago, the Chinese delegation makes big breakthroughs in the scale of the participating events. The Chinese delegation wins its place in 10 medal events of 2 disciplines within one sport for the first time, with its total events more than any Winter Olympics it participated in before. Since the Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympics, the Chinese delegation has won 12 gold, 22 silver and 19 bronze medals in total in the 10 winter Olympics. At this Winter Olympics, Chinese athletes will compete for medals in their competitive disciplines, such as short track speed skating, freestyle skiing and figure skating.

China's successful bid to host the Beijing Winter Olympics has ushered in an unprecedented development opportunity for the country's winter sports. The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is the first major comprehensive international sporting event attended by the Chinese sports delegation after the 19th CPC National Congress, as well as the "skirmish" to test the current results of the preparations for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Continuing to carry forward the spirit of Chinese sports and the Olympic spirit, the Chinese athletes strive to yield double harvests of both sports performance and spiritual civilization, in a bid to demonstrate the proactive and enthusiastic Chinese sportsmanship and show the image of an open, inclusive, civilized and progressive country.

At the last of the Parade of Nations, the delegations of ROK and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) marched together under the leading of Korean Unification Flag, and they were greeted by the whole audience with hearty cheers. Later, a grand performance with the theme of peace kicked off.

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach addressed the opening ceremony. Thomas Bach extended his appreciation for the ROK to host the Winter Olympics and believed that this Winter Olympics will become a united, inclusive, harmonious and peaceful event.

At 21:42, President Moon Jae-in of the ROK declared the 23rd Winter Olympics open.

The exciting torch lighting ceremony brought the opening ceremony to a climax. The Olympic flame lit on the Mount Olympus, Greece, was carried into the opening ceremony after a 109-day relay. The Olympic Torch Relay displayed the science and technology and culture of the ROK with distinctive means of transport such as robots, submarine cable car, hot air balloon, zip line, stream train and ox cart all used in the process of the relay. The cauldron was ignited and the warm and holy Olympic flame was burning in the night sky of Pyeongchang.

At this Winter Olympics, more than 2,900 athletes from delegations of 92 countries and regions will compete in 102 events of 15 disciplines within 7 sports. It is the first time for the athletes from Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore to participate in Winter Olympics. The women's ice hockey athletes of the ROK and the DPRK will form a combined team to jointly participate in the competition. There are four new events in this Winter Olympics: mixed doubles curling, Alpine skiing team event, mass start speed skating and big air snowboarding. This Winter Olympics ranks the first in terms of the scale and the number of events in the history. All events will conclude on February 25.

Before the opening ceremony, President Moon Jae-in of the ROK and his wife held a welcome reception for guests from the world including leaders of various countries and regions. Han Zheng was present.

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