During the Winter Olympics opening ceremony later this week, you might wonder: What is the opening ceremony theme, exactly? Undoubtedly one of the the signature events, the opening ceremonies attract viewers from around the world. Viewers tune in to check out what the host country has to offer in the way of cultural icons, national history, and — especially — performance artists.
The theme for Pyeongchang 2018 is simple and classy: Peace. Likely to be a crowd-pleaser, this broad theme provides for a lot of artistic liberty. Of course, what this means is that no one really knows exactly what to expect. However, if precedent is any clue, you should expect there to be a major focus on South Korean history.
Many countries treat the ceremonies as an opportunity to share with the world what they are most proud of in their national zeitgeist. Sometimes, as with Canada's Winter Games opening ceremonies back in 2010, host countries approach the task with a combination of earnestness and humor. As far as South Korea goes, the organizing committee has released a few details. Among them are the theme song for the torch relay, which was recorded by "Korean R&B diva" Insooni. The song, which is available to listen to online, is called "Let Everyone Shine."
In Pyeongchang, there is also expected to be a performance by at least one K-pop band, a South Korean genre of popular music. However, whether or not any bands have been booked has yet to be officially confirmed, so any acts lined up will be ultimately be a surprise.
There are, of course, some guaranteed staples at the ceremony, like the Parade of Nations. This will garner quite a bit of attention this year: North Korea and South Korea announced that they will be entering the arena together, under one flag. Whether or not North Korea would even be attending the games was entirely up in the air until early in January. While this decision has resulted in a lot of raised eyebrows from the international community, organizers say that the decisions keeps in line with the ceremony's theme.
Song Seung-whan, executive creative director for the Pyeongchang ceremonies, reportedly said at a press conference that, "although North Korea’s participation was decided belatedly, we think this will serve as a good opportunity for us to convey our message more clearly." The games, which take place in the resort-town Pyeongchang, are less than fifty miles from the border separating North and South Korea.
One thing that is almost guaranteed to be present at the opening ceremony is very cold weather. Athletes will be wearing heated uniforms, but the frigid temperatures have called into question how well spectators will be able to tolerate sitting through the event.
Reuters reports that the games are expected to be the coldest in three decades, with temperatures hovering around 7 degrees. One of the reasons, according to the report, is because the central stadium which seats 35,000 people, doesn't have a roof, leaving spectators vulnerable to the elements.
The upside is that the ceremonies will be streamed live and repeated later on in the day, to suit audiences in different time zones. In the United States, the ceremonies will stream at 8 p.m. EST on Friday, Feb. 9. The show will be available for streaming on NBCOlympics.com.
Ultimately, the games are intended to promote international cooperation in the name of good sportsmanship, and with tensions as high as ever among the world's super powers, it appears the Winter Games couldn't have been scheduled for a better time— and the theme couldn't have be more poignant. Here's hoping that it resonates.