Even before it’s begun, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has already proved that sports can be the biggest unifying force. After all, at this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, athletes from North Korea will be in attendance — a statement that would have been unthinkable until a few days back considering the two Koreas are still technically at war, with the 1950-53 Korean conflict ending in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.
Incredibly, North Korea's national flag will also be flying in their southern neighbouring country. One must remember that South Korea has a strict national security law, under which even praising North Korea is illegal — an offence which can earn someone seven years in prison.
With the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics just around the corner, here’s a handy primer for the mega event.
15 disciplines, over 100 medals
These Winter Olympics will be a 19-day affair. The Games will officially go on from 9 to 25 February, although events like biathlon, luge, ski jumping, alpine skiing and curling will see some action before Friday’s Opening Ceremony.
While Pyeongchang will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, apart from most of the snow sports, alpine speed events will be held in Jeongseon. Meanwhile, all ice sports will be held in the coastal city of Gangneung.
In all there are 102 events at this edition of the Olympics across 15 disciplines . This is the first time that there are over a 100 gold medals on offer at a Winter Olympics. While most of the events have been in the Olympic program for a long time, six new events — curling mixed doubles, alpine skiing team event, snowboard big air (for men and women), and speed skating mass start (men, women), have been added to the programme. Pyeongchang 2018 will also see the most number of women’s and mixed events in the history of Olympic Winter Games.
Here’s a breakdown of the 15 disciplines:
Snow sports (7 disciplines): alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping and snowboard.
Ice sports (5 disciplines): short track speed skating, speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey and curling.
Sliding sports (3 disciplines): Bobsleigh, luge and skeleton.
Two Indians will be action at this year’s Winter Olympics. Luge pilot Shiva Keshavan will be competing at his sixth, and possibly last, Winter Olympics. Accompanying him will be cross-country skier Jagdish Singh. Singh’s participation came under a cloud due to confusion surrounding the participation of his coach, which led him to miss his flight to South Korea recently.
While Keshavan will have a few training runs on the 7th, 8th and 9th, he will have his first and second runs on Saturday (10 February), with the remaining two runs on Sunday.
Due to doping offences, Russia was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, 169 Russian athletes — the third largest contingent after USA and Canada —will compete under the neutral flag at Pyeongchang. The athletes have been instructed that “no national identification design elements should be featured on their uniforms”.
What else is new?
The two Koreas will field a joint women's ice hockey team consisting of players from both North and South Korea. Not just that, at the Opening Ceremony, the North and South Korean contingents will march together under the Unification Flag — featuring the entire peninsula and surrounding islands in blue on a white background — which was last used in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Here's what the Yongpyong Alpine Centre looks like:
— Olympics (@Olympics) January 10, 2018
And here's a look at the Alpensia Biathlon Centre:
Updated Date: Feb 04, 2018 20:02 PM