Joint Korean delegations enter the stadium during the opening ceremony. (Feng Yongbin/China Daily)
The march of the joint Korean delegations, cheered at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games on Friday in Pyeongchang, a mountainous county in the Republic of Korea, was hailed as a "message of peace to the world". [Special coverage]
Though biting winds were blowing over the northeastern mountain region, the atmosphere at the roofless Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on Friday night was intense and vibrant. A show featuring culture transcendence in the host country, from ancient to modern times, brought vitality to the venue against a backdrop of fireworks during the opening ceremony.
The applause from spectators reached peak volume when the delegations of the host country and its neighbor the Democratic People's Republic of Korea marched into the stadium together. They were led by the Korean unification flag, which bears the image of the Korean Peninsula in blue against a white background.
It was the first joint Korean march into an opening ceremony at an international sporting event since the two sides did so at the opening show of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics in Italy.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach called the move an emotional moment that reflects the value of the Olympic Movement.
"This is how you show the unique power of sport to unite people. The joint march of the athletes from the two countries sent a powerful message of peace to the world," Bach said during the ceremony.
A total of 2,920 athletes from 92 countries and regions will compete in 102 events through Feb 25 in Pyeongchang.
The Chinese delegation, spearheaded by flag bearer Zhou Yang, a three-time Olympic champion in short-track speedskating, sent 82 athletes to vie with the world's best in 55 events.
The performance continued after the delegation parade, with local artists singing John Lennon's classic Imagine and the Korean folk song Arirang as the audience clapped. A group of snowboarders then surfed down a mountain slope next to the stadium and stopped in the formation of Olympic rings.
Retired Olympic champion figure skater Kim Yuna lit the Olympic flame in a cauldron on a high platform at the stadium.
Song Seung-hwan, executive director of the Games' opening and closing ceremonies, said: "We are really focused on our uniqueness as Korea. For the international audience, I want to deliver the diversity and energy of Korean culture, so they can remember Korea and Koreans for what we truly are."
Retired Chinese figure skater Tong Jian, who is in Pyeongchang as a guest TV commentator, said the opening ceremony was impressive.
"It's not the biggest nor the most expensive of opening ceremonies, but the spirit of coherence and the demonstration of Korean history and culture were unique and intriguing," said Tong.