You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Winter Olympics Kick Off in Korea Amid Political Tensions

A day before the official opening ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, the first sporting action from Pyeongchang, South Korea, is already underway. Political complications, currently in abeyance, could resurface at any moment.

With a bulging roster of events, organizers have scheduled events on Day Minus One (Thursday morning local time, Wednesday in the U.S.) and Day Zero (Friday/Thursday). The opening ceremony, which will see North and South Korea parade for the first time under a unified flag, is set to begin at 8 p.m. Friday evening in Pyeongchang. That’s 6 a.m. Friday for early-rising sports fans on the U.S. Eastern seaboard, and 3 a.m. for the red-eyed on the West Coast.

The U.S.’ Olympics broadcaster, NBC, is providing multiple live feeds on its dedicated website. And crowd-pleasing events such as figure skating and the opening ceremony will show in NBC primetime.

Katie Couric will co-host NBC’s opening ceremony coverage. Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. athlete to win an Olympic single luge medal, will lead out Team USA.

The action kicked off with a newly introduced twist on the ancient sport of curling – mixed doubles – from the Gangneung Curling Center. This made-for-TV version of curling is played by a male-female pair and is quicker than the traditional team format. Hosts South Korea launched the action with a 9-4 victory over Finland.

Next up, billed as more of a grudge match, was the U.S. versus Russia, or more precisely Olympic Athletes from Russia (known as Team OAR), as the Russian national team has been banned because of the country’s doping offenses. Having lost their previous Russian encounter, the American brother and sister team of Matt and Becca Hamilton comfortably won their match 9-3 after just seven ends. The pair will compete again Thursday in a match against neighbors and rivals Canada.

The political context in Korea has the potential to be a running story throughout the two weeks. North Korea and its controversial leader, Kim Jong-un, have spent much of the last year asserting their nuclear arms capability and baiting U.S. President Donald Trump in the process.

Speaking in Japan en route to Korea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence again condemned North Korea. “Freedom-loving people across the world long for the day when peace & prosperity replace Pyongyang’s belligerence & brutality. W/ our allies & partners we will continue to strive to peacefully dismantle N. Korea’s nuclear program & alleviate the suffering of its people,” he said Thursday on Twitter.

Despite the mutual suspicions between North and South Korea, which are still technically at war, there has been a modest outbreak of peace on the Korean peninsula. Kim Yo-jong, the high-profile sister of Kim Jong-un will attend the Games, along with 22 athletes and a 400-strong delegation of cheerleaders, musicians, and taekwondo players.

But peace can be complicated, too. Japan has objected to the newly minted united Korean flag as it appears to show an island territory over which Japan claims sovereignty.

North Korea has also brought forward a major military parade back home in its capital, Pyongyang, which other countries say is a provocative move. And North Korean officials say that they have no plans to meet with Pence or other representatives of the U.S. government while they are in the South.

The Pyeongchang Games run Feb. 9-25.

CREDIT: Twitter

More TV

  • MMA Alters Faces of Asia Sports

    MMA Alters Faces of Asian Sports Broadcasting

    Bruce Lee was ahead of the curve by about four decades when he predicted back in the early 1970s that combat sports would one day take the world by storm. Hong Kong’s favorite son had encouraged his own students to mix up the styles of martial arts they were being trained in — to combine kung fu [...]

  • Variety Kit Harington Game of Thrones

    Kit Harington on How 'Game of Thrones' Mirrors Real-World Politics

    In Variety‘s March 19 cover story, Kit Harington opens up about the final season of “Game of Thrones” and growing into adulthood as part of the biggest show on television. In a conversation in London in December, Harington opened up about the similarities between the series’ politics and our own. “I think it’s always been about [...]

  • Chris O'Dowd

    TV News Roundup: Chris O'Dowd to Star in 'Twilight Zone' Episode

    In today’s roundup, The CW has released two clips from the upcoming “Riverdale” special “Heathers: The Musical,” and Chris O’Dowd will star in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”  CASTING Chris O’Dowd will star in CBS All Access’ rebooted “The Twilight Zone” episode titled “The Blue Scorpion.” The series will premiere with two episodes on [...]

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Wendy Williams Sober Living House

    Wendy Williams Reveals She's Been Staying in a Sober-Living House

    Wendy Williams, during an emotional monologue on her talk show on Tuesday, revealed through tears that she has been staying at a sober-living house. “So you know me for being a very open and truthful person,” she began the segment on “The Wendy Williams Show,” fighting through tears. “And I’ve got more to the story [...]

  • Hong Kong Industry Executives Seek Clarity

    FilMart: Hong Kong Industry Executives Plead for Clarity on Mainland Chinese Tax Policies

    At a time of heightened scrutiny of tax affairs in China’s entertainment sector, even industry veterans in Hong Kong are struggling to figure out how to operate in the new financial environment and pleading for more clarity from the Chinese government. Hong Kong produces about 60 films a year, three-quarters of which are typically co-productions [...]

  • Michael Jackson R Kelly

    'Leaving Neverland,' 'Surviving R. Kelly' Composers on How They Scored Sexual Abuse Docs

    How do you put music to child sexual abuse — especially if the accused predators are musical icons? That’s the challenge composers Chad Hobson and Nathan Matthew David faced as they scored HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” and Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly,” respectively. The documentaries are built around interviews with the alleged victims of Michael Jackson (two [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content