Pyeongchang Winter Olympics: The heat is on


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Koreas march together as Winter Games begin.

Shiva Keshavan carries the Indian flag during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday. (Photo: Ap)

Pyeongchang (South Korea): The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opened on Friday with North and South Korea marching together at a bitterly cold ceremony attended by the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to visit the South since the Korean War. Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was among a 500-strong North Korean delegation visiting the South following an abrupt thaw in relations between the rival Korea’s in the run-up to the Games.

Meanwhile, luger Shiva Keshavan once again did the honours of holding the national flag as the Indian contingent, including cross country skier Jagdish Singh, took part in a glittering opening ceremony. Keshavan, Jagdish and chef-de-mission Harjinder Singh were among the six Indians who took part in the march past under sub-zero conditions in this South Korean resort town. All the members of the Indian contingent wore red track shirt and black trousers with grey hand gloves and an Himachali cap.

The 36-year-old Keshavan, who is taking part in his sixth and last Winter Olympics, was seen waving the tri-colour. “What a moment! What a special feeling it is, being the flag bearer at the @Olympics #pyeongchang2018,” Keshavan tweeted. Keshavan has carried the Indian flag in all his earlier five Winter Olympics appearances either at the opening or closing ceremony. The 2014 edition was an exception as the Indian Olympic Association was under suspension.

Cross country skier Jagdish Singh arrived on Friday on time to take part in the ceremony. Jagdish was to arrive here on February 4 along with Keshavan but his departure from India was delayed due to confusion over who will accompany him as coach. The four heats of luge men’s singles events in which Keshavan will participate will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Jagdish will compete in the 15-km Nordic skiing freestyle event on February 16.

Expectations are also sky-high for an array of stars at Pyeongchang, including American skiers Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, while the drama in figure skating centres on whether Japan’s “Ice Prince” Yuzuru Hanyu can recover from injury to retain his crown. The sensational 15-year-old Alina Zagitova of Russia will take the spotlight in women’s figure skating, where a showdown is expected with her fellow Russian teen, Evgenia Medvedeva.

Another teenage breakout star could be Chloe Kim, 17, the American whose parents are Korean and who is tipped for gold in snowboard. South Korean hopes rest on the shoulder of yet another teenage girl Choi Min-jeong (19) who is among the favourites in short track speedskating.